PARIS — The French procurement office has ordered the building and servicing of five hybrid-electric propulsion multimission harbor craft, dubbed CMM, from iXblue’s H2X Division and the company Cegelec Defense et Naval Sud-Est.
This was the first acquisition of hybrid diesel- and battery-powered vessels for the French Navy, the Direction Générale de l’Armement said in a statement. The contracts were signed March 6 and followed an operational evaluation of the first prototype craft, which began in November.
A DGA official declined to give a value for the contract, which included options for two more vessels. Delivery is due to start mid-2019 and continue to mid-2020. IXblue will build the vessels, and Cegelec will maintain them for 10 years.
The harbor craft will be used to transport sailors and materiel; support divers for underwater work; and conduct anti-pollution work. The conventional diesel power delivers speed of 10 knots, and it can then be switched to run on rechargeable batteries, intended to cut down on carbon dioxide pollution and noise while the crew works. Conventional diesel engines are less energy efficient and deliver the most pollution when working at low speed, the DGA said.
The vessels will be 24 meters long, 8 meters wide and weigh 53 tons. Mauric, a design office, worked with partners iXblue H2X and Alternative Energies to design the propulsion and energy system. The H2X Division specializes in building work boats with composite hulls.
The CMM project signals the support for innovation, backed by the draft 2019-2025 military budget law, the DGA said. The annual budget for feasibility studies is due to rise to €1 billion (U.S. $1.2 billion) by 2022 from €730 million in 2018.