Bâtiments de Projection et de Commandement (BPC)
Force Projection and Command Ships
Nouveaux Transports de Chalands de Débarquement (NTCD)
New Landing-Craft Transport
Mistral and Tonnerre are all-electric ships with a length overall of 199m and displacement of 21,300 tons. These ships are designated Les Bâtiments de Projection et de Commandement (BPC) -- Force Projection and Command Ships, and were previously designated Nouveaux Transports de Chalands de Débarquement (NTCD) - New Landing-Craft Transports. The BPC concept combines a landing helicopter dock, a floating hospital, an amphibious assault ship, troop transport and a command vessel in a single platform. The two BPCs will be the first naval vessels built that will be propelled by a pair of podded propulsors of the type that have become widely used on commercial vessels. They have a crew of 160, plus 450 troops, endurance of 45 days, and maximum range of 11,000nm at 15 knots.
The Mistral is the first vessel of a new BPC force projection and command type developed by DCNS for the French Navy. The Mistral combines payload capacity and versatility. It can carry up to 16 heavy helicopters and one-third of a mechanized regiment, plus two LCAC hovercraft or forr LCM landing craft. A high-performance communications suite makes the Mistral ideal as a command vessel. The 750-sq.m hospital features two operating theatres and offers 69 beds. If additional hospital/medevac space is required, the hangar can be converted into a modular field hospital.
The two 21,000 ton Nouveaux Transports de Chalands de Débarquement (NTCD -- New Landing-Craft Transport / New Transport Barges of Unloading) are designed to control an amphibious operation within the framework of NATO projection operations. Their systems of communication are thus very powerful. They possess an exceptional capacity of carrying of men and hardware. The living spaces is more developed than in highly armed military ships.
France had a amphibian fleet made up of 2 Transports de Chalands de Débarquement (TCD or LPD according to the Anglo-Saxon terminology) of the Ouragan class of 8,000 tons, and 2 TCD of the Foudre class of 12,000 tons. In 1990 and 1998 respectively the French Navy commissioned the two 9,000 tons dock landing ships Foudre and Siroco. The two TCD Ouragan and Orage, which entered in service in 1965 and 1968, needed to be replaced in 2004 and 2006 at the latest.
The increasing importance taken by the aeromobility in the operations and search of a complementarity with the existing TCD Foudre and Siroco resulted in being directed towards amphibious buildings of a new type where the helicopter carrier is an option. This capacity associated with an exceptional versatility to cover a broad spectrum of missions, brings closer the NTCD to the American ships of the LHD category. The comparison with the American ship, with twice the displacement and built according to military standards, stops there. The NTCD, for budgetary reasons, will be manufactured with the civil standards, just like the Dutch LPD Rotterdam (TCD) or the British LPH Ocean. An inscription of the NTCD to the register of Veritas Bureau was required.
On 26 July 2010 the President of the Republic confirmed that the order for the fourth building projection and command of the Mistral type would not come early, as was the case for PCB 3. The decision is not surprising in the current context but the announcement had the merit to formalize things. Baptized Dixmude, the ship, which was initially to be done after 2015, was commissioned in advance phase in April 2009 on the economic recovery plan. It was, then, giving work to Nazairie sites, shops closed due to lack of new orders. Two ships have since been signed by STX France with MSC Cruises and GNMTC.
The fourth PCB remains under the next act of military programming (2015-2020). Nicolas Sarkozy indicated that this ship would be delivered to the Navy in 2019/2020. Until then, the French fleet include therefore the PCBs Mistral, Thunder and Dixmuide (in-service in 2012), as well as transport of LCUs Siroco, operational since 1998. The sister ship of the Siroco, la Foudre lightning (1990), will be disarmed with the entry into service of the Dixmude. Considering its age, this SHT will probably not be sent to the demolition. France aims to sell it to a foreign Navy. Argentina, which had considered a few years to acquire the TCD hurricane and storm (prior to waiver due to asbestos) might be interested.
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