The French defense procurement agency DGA has awarded Merré Shipyard a contract for the delivery of eight new-generation diving support vessels (Vedettes de soutien à la plongée – VSP) to the French Navy.
Delivery of the first of eight units is scheduled for 2022, according to a defense ministry announcement.
The new tenders are replacing their nine Dionée-class predecessors. VSP will be based in Toulon, Brest, and Cherbourg, and will also be used by the Saint Mandrier diving school.
VSPs will mainly perform mine countermeasure duties in shallower waters due to their low draft in addition to towed sonar surveillance operations. The 26-meter vessels will displace 87 tons and will be capable of supporting up to 16 divers working at depths of up to 60 meters.
What is more, the vessels are to be fitted with 7.62 machine guns, a hyperbaric chamber a crane with a capacity to deploy payloads weighing up to 200 kg.
The final VSP vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2025.