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First new French POM offshore patrol vessel arrives at new home port in Nouméa

The French Navy's first new Félix Éboué-class offshore patrol vessel, Auguste Bénébig (P 779), has arrived at its new home port in New Caledonia. (French Navy)

The first of the French Navy's six new Félix Éboué-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), also known as the Patrouilleur d'Outre-Mer (POM), has arrived at its new home port at Chaleix naval base in Nouméa, New Caledonia.

First-of-class Auguste Bénébig (P 779) departed Brest, in western France, on 17 January and spent almost three months in transit before arriving at its final destination in Nouméa on 3 April, according to the French Ministry of Defence.

The OPV will now continue with its sea acceptance trials ahead of its commissioning into service with the French Navy.

The six POMs are being built under a contract awarded to a consortium comprising Socarenam and CNN MCO on 3 December 2019. Construction is taking place at Socarenam's shipyards in Boulogne-sur-Mer in the north of France and Saint-Malo in Brittany.

Auguste Bénébig started construction in October 2020, was launched on 15 October 2021, and started sea trials in July 2022. Construction of three more began in 2021 and 2022, and all six OPVs are expected to be delivered by 2025.

The POMs are intended to replace the French Navy's ageing P400-class patrol boats for operation in France's overseas territories and feature significant improvements in capability over their predecessors. The French Navy has been progressively decommissioning its P400-class patrol boats since 2009. La Glorieuse (P 686), the last vessel of the class still in service, is expected to be decommissioned this year.

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