[Interview] Sébastien Martinot, Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle

Sébastien Martinot Commandant du porte-avion Charles de Gaulle

07 February 2022 Surface ships Fleet services Story

After Naval Group completed the Charles de Gaulle’s technical stop (TS) over the summer of 2021, the aircraft carrier recovered its full potential by the autumn and took part in a unique joint exercise, Polaris 21. Before the ship's next operational deployment, due in February 2022, its Commanding Officer, Captain Sébastien Martinot, looks back at these stages and discusses the challenges facing the French navy's flagship in the upcoming maintenance periods.

How did the technical stop of the Charles de Gaulle go?

Sébastien Martinot: Naval Group teams masterfully completed this intense technical stop, all in complete safety despite a tight time frame - the three months of summer - and an ongoing complex health situation.
The remarkable level of availability on completion of the technical stop is all down to Naval Group, the prime contractor, who strongly drew on the lessons learned from previous technical stops, while having well prepared and organised the work closely with state bodies.
Also contributing to this success was the overall synergy between the industrial teams and the crew.
In operational terms, this resulted in the aircraft carrier’s ambitious recovery at the end of the summer. The technical and human testing of installations was completed over a period of two weeks.

What is your view of the aircraft carrier’s operational capabilities, which underwent rigorous tests during the Polaris exercise that took place between 18 November and 3 December?

Sébastien Martinot: After undergoing maintenance, the Charles de Gaulle was fully fit for taking part in this high-intensity engagement training exercise.
Despite difficult weather conditions, the exercise was conducted without any restrictions and with the required reactivity when faced with an evolving scenario. The ship met all operational requirements and the availability of its aviation installations was satisfactory.
Moreover, the crew appreciated the added comfort, atmosphere and space in the cafeteria and crew quarters brought by the work carried out.
The efforts made to complete the work over the summer have indeed proven successful!

What are the challenges of the upcoming maintenance periods?

Sébastien Martinot: The next two major maintenance dates for the aircraft carrier will be the technical stop scheduled for summer 2022 and the Mid-Cycle Docking (MCD) scheduled for 2023. Next summer, as in the summer of 2021, the focus will be on the ship’s aviation installations, machinery hoists and on improving living conditions on board. The aim is to reduce the amount of work to be carried out in the dry dock in 2023, during which time the ship will be benefiting from extensive maintenance work on its propulsion system, nuclear reactors, structures and flight deck.
Anticipating obsolescence and preparing the work carefully must always be a priority in order to ensure that each maintenance period is a success!