Prosub: France-Brazil, an unwavering proximity

16 December 2020 Submarines Group Story

The 9,066 kilometres separating Cherbourg and Itaguai are no longer as significant: on 23 December 2008, France and Brazil had never been as close. According to Vincent Larnaudie-Eiffel, Deputy Director of the Prosub program, “the military cooperation and industrial agreement between France and Brazil, formalised in the naval sector by the Prosub program, means that Naval Group and the Brazilian Navy have made a commitment lasting for several decades.”

With an unprecedented Transfer of Technology program at hand, Naval Group undertook a very ambitious program 12 years ago: to support the growth of the Brazilian submarine force. First phase: to help Brazil build and operate four conventional Scorpène® submarines (SBR), in a new shipyard and operational naval base built in Itaguai for this purpose. Prosub (Programma Submarino) also plans for a second phase; support from Naval Group in the design and construction of a new class of nuclear-powered submarines, the SNBR.

Brazilian sovereignty

On top of becoming one of the few powers to dispose of nuclear-powered submarines, the challenge for this large South American nation was to assert its territorial sovereignty in the “Blue Amazon”, its exclusive economic zone. Equivalent to the surface area of the Amazon forest, the Brazilian maritime territory covers 3.6 million km2 of Atlantic coastline, and is rich in marine biodiversity and energy resources.

Transfer of Technology and training

In order to assist Brazil in its goal, Naval Group went further than ever before in terms of Transfer of Technology and training of Brazilian engineers and sailors. Representative of the scale of commitment, the joint venture with Itaguaï Constructoes Navais (ICN) includes nearly 2,000 Brazilian employees and around 15 French employees, as well as hundreds of Naval Group employees working back office on all French sites and front office in Sao Paulo (assistance in the design of the Brazilian nuclear-powered submarines, the SNBR) and in technical assistance in Itaguai. The Transfer of Technology also involved training the Brazilian teams in Cherbourg for several months to enable the manufacture and assembly of the Scorpène® submarines in Itaguai.

Construction and design

Whereas the first phase of the partnership between Naval Group and the Brazilian Navy has been centred around the construction in Itaguai of four Scorpène® and the corresponding naval base, in parallel with the preliminary projects on the SNBR, the second phase aims to develop and build the first Brazilian nuclear-powered submarine (SNBR) and the related infrastructures. For Brazil, this entails the acquisition of industrial and architectural skills on the conventional Scorpène® submarines prior to developing and building its future nuclear-powered submarine. A phase for which, in accordance with France’s commitment and in compliance with international legislature, Naval Group provides technical assistance to the Brazilian Navy, excluding for the nuclear reactor.

Assessment and outlook

Large-scale works have thus given rise to a first-rate industrial and military site: the Itaguai naval base. “We acted as advisers for the infrastructure component, providing a considerable Transfer of Technology to the Brazilian Navy. Our Brazilian industrial partner then undertook the construction of the infrastructures, more than 100 buildings and a tunnel running more than 700 metres to transport the sections of submarines before assembling them on the Itaguai naval base.”
The First-Of-Class, the Riachuelo will be delivered 2021. The other Brazilian Scorpène® submarines will be delivered in 2022, 2023 and 2024. All will be equipped with Naval Group’s new-generation F21 heavy-weight torpedo, for which Brazil is the first international client.
Prosub will allow Naval Group to strengthen its strategic partnership with the Brazilian navy for many years to come. “Beyond 2035,” specifies Vincent Larnaudie-Eiffel, “We intend to provide support to our Brazilian partners over the entire life cycle of their ships, including servicing and maintenance.” Thanks to the successful Transfer of Technology and unfailing support granted to the Brazilian Navy since 2008, Naval Group strengthens its position as a leading industrial player.

Key figures for Prosub

  • 4 conventional submarines (SBR) + 1 SNBR
  • The Itaguai naval base contains 800 m3 of concrete, roughly equivalent to 3 European Pressurised Reactors (EPR)
  • The metal structure built in the Itaguai naval base is equivalent to no less than 3 Eiffel Towers
  • More than 3,000 people have contributed to this program over 12 years.