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Champlain–class Landing Ship (Batiment de Transport Léger / BATRAL)

The prototype BAtiments de TRAnsports Légers (BATRAL = Ship, Transport, Light = Light Transport Ship) military support ship Champlain and her sister ship Francis Garnier were built at the Brest naval shipyard. A landing ship is an amphibious vessel designed to transport and landing of troops and equipment.

The BATRAL was conceived for the transport and disembarkation of a motorized infantry company of the Guépard type (5 officers, 15 NCOs and 118 infantrymen). It can acccomodate up to 23 wheeled vehicles. The ship's hull structure has a flat bottom that allows it to land on a beach or a slipway where it can then unload vehicles and passengers via a bow door.

Over 400 tons of material can be carried aboard both on deck and inside its hangar, and loaded from either a dock or a beach. The vessels' two flat-bottomed boats are able to each offload 50 men or a light vehicle. A platform at the stern of the ship allows for the decking of light helicopters and the onloading/offloading of cargo from helicopters of all type.

The Ateliers Francais de l'Ouest [AFO], of Rouen, developed four versions of the ship, all based on the original design. All versions have a helicopter deck, and their various tasks include the transport of troops and freight, beaching of armoured vehicles, launching amphibious vehicles, logistic support, training, ocean survey, and 15-day patrols.

  1. BATRAL Type A is a simplified version without beaching equipment.
  2. BATRAL Type E can embark amphibious vehicles or up to seven 40-tonne tanks; load capacity is 380 tonnes, and 180 troops can be carried; five of this version are already in service.
  3. BATRAL Type F have a load capacity of 337 t, up to seven 14-t tanks can be carried, and there is accommodation for 138 troops and 47 crew; two 1800-bhp high-speed engines drive c.p. propellers; speed is 16 knots, and range at 13 knots is 4500 miles; principal particulars include:- length 80m o.a., 68m b.p., beam 13m, draught 2.5m, and deadweight 540 t. Of this type, two Dumont d'Urville and Jacques Cartier, have been delivered to the French Navy.
  4. BATRAL Type S, the largest version, is under development; load carrying capacity is 600t and displacement is 1900 t.

The BATRAL ships are convertible for use as workshops, hospital ships, or hydrographic vessel, and optional weapon systems can include a 40-mm and one or two 20mm guns and possibly short-range missiles.

BATRAL ships are tasked with a number of missions. On top of its main joint operational support mission, they also ensures the permanence of France's sovereignty, conducts long-term patrols in the high seas and provides continued support to local populations. Secondary missions include public service mission in which the BATRALs are regularly called on to support humanitarian mission during cyclone season where their transport capacity are a valuable means by which to deploy earthmoving equipment, ambulances and humanitarian relief and thus deliver assistance to isolated communities after severe events or disasters. BATRAL ships, due to their remote deployment locations, also provide transport of people and equipment to locally isolated communities.

Built for the group of amphibious Naval Action Force, the landing ship Champlain (L9030) was deployed to the Antilles / West Indies and Guiana in May 2000 to replace the BATRAL Francis Garnier; the latter having been based in the area at Fort-de-France (Martinique) since 1974 and having returned to Brest for a technical stoppage and then reassigned to Toulon. The landing ship Champlain was removed from active service August 30, 2004 and sank off Martinique, October 27, 2004. It was replaced by BATRAL Francis Garnier (L9031) in its geographic area of responsibility. Champlain's last mission was in support of Operation Carbet in Haiti which ended June 30, 2004.

The BATRAL Francis Garnier returned to metropolitan France on 1 June 2010 in preparation for its formal decommissioning. It was put on reserve status on 3 December 2010 and decommissioned on 22 February 2011.

Dumont d'Urville (L9032) falls under the command of Armed Forces in the West Indies (Antilles COMSUP), beginnning with its assignment to Fort-de-France on 15 August 2010, when it replaced BATRAL Francis Garnier. Prior to that, it was based in Papeete in French Polynesia, starting on 13 June 1983.

As of late 2010, the Jacques Cartier (L9033) was homeported in Noumea, New Caledonia, under the operational command of the Supreme Commanding General in New Caledonia. Its area of operation extended from New Caledonia to countries in the region: New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu.

As of late 2010, the La Grandière (L9034) was based in Reunion (Port-of-rollers).



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