POM Patrouilleurs Outre-Mer
In August 2018, and in accordance with the recently approved Military Planning Act [LPM - Loi de programmation militaire] 2019-25, the Directorate General of Armaments [DGA - Direction générale de l’armement] issued a call for tenders for the acquisition six offshore patrol boats for the French Navy for overseas missions. According to the invitation to tender of the DGA, then these ships will each be armed by a crew of 35 sailors.
Compared to the P-400, the new patrol boats will be longer [70 meters against 54.80 meters], with a draft less than or equal to 3.8 meters [2.54 meters for P-400]. It will be adapted to the specific climatic conditions of overseas territories [high heat and high humidity, in particular]. In addition, they must have "good maneuverability and sea-keeping capabilities" and allow the implementation of divers, two rapid intervention craft and a rotary wing aerial drone of about 700 kg. Finally, the POMs will be equipped with "an autonomous handling capacity for lifting equipment and will be able to carry weapons and ammunition", will have "a tactical situation visualization system" and will integrate "civilian and military [including HF and satellite means]."
Nothing is said about the arming of these new ships. "The first combat system of a patrolman is his French flag. It shows the exercise by France of its sovereignty in these areas, but also remembers the presence behind the patrol boat of a whole fleet [...] that exercises with it this sovereignty," admiral Prazuck said in 2016.
A year later, contrary to the custom that it is the DGA announcing the awarding of arms contracts, President Macron took the opportunity on December 3 in Montpellier, to indicate that the Ministry of the Armies had just ordered the six patrol boats in question from Socarenam.
"I decided to modernize and renew the naval capabilities of our armies. How to be respected if we are not present on our own seas? I am pleased to announce that the order of 6 new overseas patrol boats [POM] was passed by the Minister of Armies last week," announced the Head of State. "We are building [with these six parrappers] an unparalleled ability never before acquired on the sea level to protect our spaces and assume this role of maritime power of balance," then said President Macron . "We are building a European maritime capability" and "I assume France has taken the lead," he said.
The "unacceptable" capacity holes mentioned by Macron were caused by the delay of the BATSIMAR program [Marine Surveillance and Response Building], which has been constantly burdened by budget constraints for the past decade, while it was supposed to allow the replacement of the P400 patrol boats and the A69 type [or high-sea patrol boat, out of breath] notices. The French Navy's "temporary capacity failures" in the French overseas territories, due to the gradual withdrawal of the P400s, have been partially reduced with the delivery of three French West Indies-Guiana PLG patrol boats, built by the Socarenam shipyard for the French Navy.
In a context of increasing threats to fish resources, biodiversity and international rules of the law of the sea, France intends to fully exercise its sovereignty and responsibilities in France and overseas. That is why, the recovery of the surveillance of the resources of our overseas maritime spaces have begun with the delivery of the three PLG/PAG vessels between 2017 and 2019.
It is extended with this order which will make it possible to replace the former generation of patrol boats in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and La Reunion, between 2022 and 2025. The new POM vessels will be based in:
- 2 ships in New Caledonia at Nouméa, to replace the P400 type patrol vessels La Moqueuse and La Glorieuse.
- 2 ships in La Reunion Island at Port Réunion, to replace the patrol vessel “Le Malin” (hull number P701) and a P400 vessel already decommissioned.
- 1 ship in French Polynesia at Fare Ute Papeete (Tahiti), to replace the Lapérouse-class patrol vessel Arago (hull number P675) and P400 type patrol vessel La Railleuse
- 1 ship to be based at a location to be determined
With extensive capabilities – including an aerial drone – these POM vessels will provide missions of sovereignty and protection in the French exclusive economic zones (EEZs), intervention against marine pollution and for the preservation of the environment, as well as search and rescue. Thus, between 2017 and 2025, all the patrol vessels based overseas will have been renewed.
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