What is the origin of this concept ship?
Adeline Cunin: We have worked in partnership with the Technical and Innovation Department (DTI) to integrate the final "green" elements of research available for use on a frigate capable of integrating a naval force as part of highly intensive allied combat. As the department's director Éric Papin explained, we consider that it is necessary to integrate environmental aspects as a springboard to tools and innovations with a high potential for navies. Each technology chosen therefore provides operational advantages, the aim being to obtain increased overall performances (speed, discretion, autonomy, etc.). To sum up the concept, we are using green to fight grey!
At the end of 2021, we made the decision to showcase this eco-designed ship to various customers at the Euronaval trade show. It was another way of presenting our know-how as naval ship designers, looking ahead to a different future, one with a greater respect for the environment. Blue Shark is therefore a showcase for presenting these technologies of various maturity, all of which are not necessary to be used on the same ship.
Some of these both "green and grey" advantages concern speed, which are they?
Adeline Cunin: We have chosen a stabilised single hull profile: a thin fairing surrounded by floaters. The hydrodynamic shape reduces resistance to forward movement, and therefore energy consumption, so improving the ship's autonomy for its operational needs. The Blue Shark is also capable of operating in very difficult sea states.
The hull cleaning robot also contributes to improving its speed, as well as limiting the discharge of toxic substances or invasive species.
The use of composite materials for the ship's superstructure allows not only to reduce its weight but also to integrate equipment into its walls (by sensors, for example) and therefore to better use space. And the construction's modularity, as well as the use of tools that anticipate the end of service life, right from the design phase, facilitates the ship's maintenance and final dismantling.
And you also mentioned discretion...
Adeline Cunin: Inspired by the marine environment, the ship's design aims to reduce its acoustic signature, and the texture of its hull, fitted with sensors and intelligent paint, to improve its discretion. With the system planned for waste treatment, volumes are compressed, exhaust gases managed and noise reduced.
Another tactical tool is the hybrid propulsion system, which allows the ship’s speed to be adapted to operational needs.
Naval Group has aimed to prove via the Blue Shark frigate and the twenty or so promising eco-technologies integrated on board, that the improvement in warship performance can be twinned with a reduction in their impacts on the environment.