An illustration of the French Navy’s Offshore Support and Assistance Vessels (BSAH). Credit: DCNS.
The BSAH vessels will have a maximum speed of 14k.
The first two BSAH vessels are scheduled to be delivered to the French Navy in 2018. Credit: Ministère de la Défense.

A joint venture between French shipbuilders PIRIOU and DCNS, KERSHIP, has four BSAH (Bâtiments de Soutien et d’Assistance Hauturiers) offshore support and assistance vessels on order for the French Navy, as of November 2016.

The first two vessels are being built at PIRIOU’s shipyard in Concarneau, France, and are expected to be delivered to the French Navy in 2018, while the third and fourth vessels are scheduled to be delivered in 2019.

The BSAH vessels are capable of executing multiple missions including search and rescue (SAR), monitoring and surveillance of maritime zones, logistics support, law enforcement, pollution response, underwater research, control of marine pollution, and patrol in French exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial waters. In addition, they can be used to render assistance to ships in distress at sea.

Development of BSAH vessels

The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded a contract to PIRIOU and DCNS for the design, construction and maintenance of two BSAH vessels in September 2015. The deal also included an option for the construction of two more vessels.

A firm order for the additional two vessels was placed in November. The vessels will be named after the French rivers Loire, Rhone, Seine and Garonne.

PIRIOU is responsible for the design and construction of the vessels, while DCNS will provide through-life support for a period of five years. KERSHIP is in charge of managing the contract and the industrial coordination.

BSAH vessel design

The hull and superstructures of the BSAH offshore support and assistance vessel will be constructed using steel. The vessel will have an overall length of 70.3m, moulded beam of 15.8m and depth of 5m. With a displacement of 2,600t, the ship can carry a mass of approximately 1,000t.

It will be manned by 17 crew members and accommodate up to 12 passengers as well as 12 divers with equipment. It will have a 250m² cargo deck space and be provided with storage facilities for arms and ammunition.

The vessel will be equipped with an enclosed wheelhouse with side doors situated amidships above main deck. Large square windows in the wheelhouse will offer an all-round view of the sea surface.

Features of BSAH multi-purpose vessel

A crane with a maximum reach of 25m and lifting capacity of 12t will be fitted at the aft for loading and unloading cargo. Also placed on the aft deck is a towing winch featuring a towing gear and hitches.

The multi-mission vessel will carry an 8m-long working boat and a semi-rigid hulled inflatable boat near amidships to perform patrol, law enforcement and SAR tasks. It can also carry remotely operated underwater vehicles to conduct underwater research missions.

Fire-fighting equipment on board the vessel will provide effective fire protection for crew and occupants. The vessel will also be installed with an anti-pollution barrier for the prevention of marine pollution.

French Navy’s BSAH vessels on-board sensors

Radar masts and antennae mounted atop the wheelhouse will ensure safe navigation of the BSAH vessel at sea.

The on-board communications systems developed by DCNS are intended to provide internal and external communications.

Propulsion and performance

Propulsion for the BSAH offshore support and assistance vessel will be provided by two 2,650kW engines. Additionally, the vessel will be installed with two 300kW generators.

The vessel will have a maximum speed of 14k and  operating range of 5,000nmi. It can stay afloat at sea for up to 30 days without refuelling.

The maximum bollard pull capacity of the vessel is 80t.