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French Navy commissions first POM offshore patrol vessel

The French Navy's first new Félix Éboué-class OPV, Auguste Bénébig (P 779), was commissioned into service on 25 July. (Marine Nacionale)

The French Navy commissioned its first new Félix Éboué-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), also known as the Patrouilleur d'Outre-Mer (POM), into service on 25 July.

First-of-class Auguste Bénébig (P 779) is one of six Félix Éboué-class OPVs being procured to replace the French Navy's ageing P400-class patrol boats in France's overseas territories. They will be based in New Caledonia (Nouméa), French Polynesia (Papeete), and La Réunion (Pointe des Galets).

The 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 in October 2021, and started sea trials in July 2022. It conducted its long overseas trial from January to April 2023, when it arrived at its new home port at Chaleix naval base in Nouméa, New Caledonia, to continue sea acceptance trials ahead of its commissioning. The ship will operate under the command of the French armed forces in New Caledonia (FANC), conducting a range of missions, including maritime surveillance, pollution monitoring, and search-and-rescue (SAR) tasks.

The second ship under construction, Teriieroo a teriierooiterai (P 780), was laid down in 2021, launched in 2022, and is scheduled for delivery in late 2023 or early 2024. It will be based in Papeete.

Deliveries of the remaining ships will be completed in 2026.

Auguste Bénébig will eventually be joined by its sister ship Jean Tranape (P 781) for operations in New Caledonia, Philippe Bernardino (P 782) will be based with Teriieroo a teriierooiterai

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