The Durance Class multi-product replenishment oilers were originally designed and built for the French Navy. Five vessels were constructed for the French Navy and one was built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Durance Class oilers of the French Navy are known as Bâtiment de commandement et ravitailleur (BCR). The keel for the first ship in class, Durance (A629), was laid down at Brest Arsenal in December 1973. The ship was launched in September 1975 and commissioned in December 1976. It was decommissioned in December 1997 and sold to the Argentine Navy in July 1999. The ship was renamed ARA Patagonia (B-1) and re-entered service in July 2000.
Meuse (A607) was laid down in June 1977, launched in December 1978 and commissioned in November 1980. Var (A608) was laid down in May 1979, launched in May 1981 and commissioned in January 1983. Marne (A630) was laid down in August 1982, launched in February 1985 and commissioned in January 1987.
Somme (A631) was laid down in May 1985 and launched in October 1987 for the commissioning in March 1990.
The sixth ship in the class, HMAS Success (AOR 304), was built at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in Australia. It was laid down in August 1980, launched in March 1984 and commissioned into the RAN in April 1986. Two modified Durance Class replenishment ships named 902 Boraida and 904 Yunbou are also in service with Royal Saudi Navy.
In October 2010, the Australian Department of Defence selected ST Marine to convert the Royal HMAS Success into a double hulled vessel. The conversion work will be carried out in Singapore.
Double hulling will enable the HMAS Success to comply with the International Maritime Organisation regulations for environmental protection against oil spills.
Durance Class features
Durance Class oilers are equipped with the RAS (Replenishment at Sea) system which enables transfer of fuel, munitions and stores in rough weather and varying sea states. The vessel thus enables other fleet units to operate offshore for longer periods without the shore support. There are solid cargo transfer stations available to handle loads of up to 2t. The hydraulic winches are equipped with electro hydraulic controls. The vessel features two DRBN-38 radars and a SLQ-25 Nixie towed jammer.
Durance Class has an overall length of 157m, beam of 21m and draft of 8.6m. The standard and full load displacements of the ship are 7,800t and 18,000t respectively. The ship can accommodate a company of 160-220 personnel based on the mission requirement.
Durance Class missions
The Durance Class oilers support transfers of fuel, ammunition, food and stores on move. The vessels can additionally board general staff and monitor naval operations.
These ships simultaneously use RAS and vertical replenishment (VERTREP) methods for transfers. The ship can also carry boats and landing craft for troop transfers during emergency conditions.
The multi-product replenishment oilers can carry 9,700t of fuel, 250t of fresh water, 1,100t of TR5, 170t of food and 170t of munitions. The vessels also have 250t spare capacity to carry additional supplies.
The Durance Class is armed with a twin Bofors 40mm gun, two 20mm Oerlikon cannons and two 12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns. The vessel can be mounted with RBS 70 platforms or Simbad Mistral missile launchers for short range air defence.
Durance Class has an aft flight deck and hangar space to accommodate a medium sized helicopter such as Lynx, Alouette III, Panther, Dauphin, Gazelle, Puma and Cougar. The helicopter onboard enables the VERTREP operations.
Durance Class is powered by two Pielstick 16 PC 2-5V 400 medium speed diesel engines. The two engines, driving two independent variable pitch propellers via two shafts, provide a total power output of 14,710kW at 520rpm. The propulsion system provides maximum speed of 19kt and maximum range of 9000nm at 15kt.