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French Navy's fire-damaged SSN Perle operational again

Three years after suffering serious damage caused by a fire while it was undergoing its final major overhaul, the French Navy's Rubis-class SSN Perle has been returned to active service. (French Navy)

The French Navy's fire-damaged Rubis Améthyste-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) Perle (S 606) has been returned to active service following the successful completion of its refit, repair, and upgrade period, the French Navy has announced.

Perle, the youngest of the French Navy's four remaining Rubis-class SSNs, arrived at Toulon naval base in November 2019 to start its final major refit (indisponibilité périodique pour entretien et reparation: IPER), which was scheduled to complete in 2021. However, the overhaul was interrupted by a fire that broke out on Perle while in dry dock on 12 June 2020, leaving the submarine with irreparable damage to its forward hull section.

Following unprecedented repair work carried out over 10 months by French shipbuilder Naval Group at its facilities in Cherbourg, which involved replacing the forward section of Perle with the front section of the decommissioned Rubis-class SSN Saphir, Perle was returned to Toulon naval base by heavy-lift barge on 31 October 2021 to restart its overhaul.

In November 2022 Perle finally left dry dock to start dockside testing, which was followed by sea trials in May 2023, beginning with a static dive test on 22 May in Toulon harbour. Following the conclusion of sea trials, Perle officially completed its IPER on 30 June. The IPER will enable the submarine to remain operational until at least 2028, the French Navy said.

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