Delivery of Morocco’s FREMM frigate is nearing, with the Mohammed VI having recently completed a third set of sea trials prior to delivery later this year, as the North African country continues to expand its navy.
The ship’s builder DCNS said that the Mohammed VI frigate successfully completed a third series of sea trials off the French coast in June, which tested the performance of the ship’s combat systems.
Operational scenarios were executed to check the consistency of the data analysed and displayed by the combat system sensors with the results obtained during shore-based simulations, DCNS said. Specific tests included target engagement sequences using Aster anti-air missiles and MM40 anti-ship missiles, fire control tests for the 76 mm main gun and exhaustive testing of the multifunction radar. Other vessel capability tests involved helicopter approach control and the deployment of various towed devices.
“This third series of sea trials represents a major milestone for the overall programme and more particularly for the ship’s combat system. Our crews thoroughly tested the full suite of combat system hardware and software,” said Gilles Raybaud, DCNS’s FREMM programme manager for Morocco.
Sailors from the Royal Moroccan Navy took part in the sea trials to familiarise themselves with the vessel’s systems. Working in tandem with the French Navy crew, they took part in activities ranging from bridge and propulsion watchkeeping to safety exercises and platform management. The Moroccan crew members had previously completed simulation-based training at DCNS’s Lorient and Le Mourillon centres to familiarise them with FREMM systems.
Vice-Admiral Laghmari, inspector-general of the Royal Moroccan Navy, toured the future Mohamed VI at Lorient, meeting members of the Moroccan crew assigned to the trials and congratulating them on the tasks already completed. He encouraged them to continue to familiarise themselves with the new ship prior to delivery, and indicated that he was fully satisfied with the programme’s progress and the results of the sea trials, DCNS said.
Morocco’s first FREMM began sea trials on April 17 off the coast of Brittany, demonstrating the ship’s propulsion and navigation systems. The FREMM’s hybrid CODLOG (COmbined Diesel eLectric Or Gas) power package combines electric motors for low-speed silent-mode propulsion and a gas turbine for high-speed mechanical propulsion, with a maximum speed in excess of 27 knots. This gives a range of 6 000 nm at 15 knots.
The FREMM programme includes 12 ships, 11 for the French Navy and one for the Royal Moroccan Navy. DCNS delivered the Aquitaine, the first FREMM multimission frigate, to the French Navy in November 2012. DCNS is currently working on four FREMM frigates at different stages of completion.
Morocco’s US$676 million contract for the frigate was finalised with DCNS in April 2008 and construction began at Lorient in December 2008.
The multirole FREMM frigates have been designed for several roles, including anti-air, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare. They feature Herakles multifunction radar, Aster anti-air missiles, MdCN cruise missiles, Exocet MM40 anti-ship missiles, MU90 torpedoes and an Otobreda 76 mm gun. Each vessel is 142 metres long, has a beam of 20 metres and displaces 6 000 tonnes.
Although there is accommodation for 145 personnel, the standard complement is 108 including the helicopter crew. The frigate has an aft helicopter hangar and deck able to accommodate medium helicopters like the NH90, EH101 and Cougar.
Morocco is enlarging its navy, having recently received three new Sigma class frigates from Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding. The current Moroccan fleet includes two Floréal-class frigates and a Descubierta-class corvette in addition to some 21 patrol craft and a number of other ships and vessels.
Last year it was reported that Morocco was interested in buying submarines from either Germany or Russia, as its neighbour and rival Algeria has four submarines in service. Russian state arms export company Rosoboronexport earlier this month said it will offer its Amur 1650 submarine to Morocco if the North African country announces a tender. Rosoboronexport Vice-President Viktor Komardin said that the company was “actively promoting” the Amur 1650 on the world market.