Suffren-class frigate

The Suffren class anti-air frigates were first-rank destroyers of the French Navy, designed to protect a fleet against air threats, surface ships, submarines, and, to a lesser extent, provide firepower against land objectives. They were the first French ships to be built specifically as guided missile frigates.

Frigate Duquesne
Class overview
Name: Suffren class
Operators:  French Navy
Succeeded by: Horizon-class frigate
Built: 1962–1967
In commission: 1967–2008
Completed: 2
Laid up: 2
General characteristics
Type: Frigate
Length: 158 m (518 ft 4 in)
Beam: 15.50 m (50 ft 10 in)
Draught: 7.25 m (23 ft 9 in)
  • 4 × boilers
  • 4 × steam turbines
  • 72,500 hp (54,063 kW)
  • 2 × propellers
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
1 × EDL 700, 1 × EDO, 1 × 10-seat EFRC, 1 × 10-seat EFR
Complement: 360 men, including 23 officers.
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • DRBI23 tridimensional sentry radar
  • DRBV15 surface or low-altitude sentry radar
  • DRBC33 multi-system targeting radar
  • DRBN34
  • DRBR51
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 2 × "Sagaie" decoy launchers
  • SLQ-25 Nixie towed decoy
  • ARBR33 jammer
  • ARBR17 detector
  • 48 × Masurca surface-air missiles (DRBR51-guided)
  • 4 × MM38 Exocet missiles
  • 10 × L5 anti-submarine torpedoes
  • 2 × 100 mm turrets
  • 4 × 20 mm cannons
  • 4 × 12.7 mm machine guns
Notes: Ships in class include: Suffren and Duquesne


The two ships were designed as escorts for the Clemenceau-class aircraft carriers and are similar in concept to the British Type 82 destroyer. The French class designation is FLE 60. The primary weapon is the Masurca surface to air missiles which are launched from a twin launcher on the quarter deck. 48 missiles were carried. Fire control was via the DRBI 23 3D radar housed in a massive radome. Anti-submarine weapons include a Malafon anti-submarine missile system (13 missiles carried) and torpedo catapults. Exocet missiles were fitted in 1977-79 replacing the Malafon.

Both ships were modernised with the fitting of new electronics in the early 1990s, with Suffren the first to undergo the process between in 1989-90, followed by Duquesne between 1990-91.


The two ships of the class were both named after French admirals. Three ships were initially planned with more in a follow-on group, but budgetary constraints caused by building the nuclear deterrent submarines caused the programme to be terminated at two ships.

Ship Number Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned
Suffren D602 Arsenal de Brest 21 December 1962 15 May 1965 20 July 1967 2 April 2001
Duquesne D603 Arsenal de Lorient November 1964 12 February 1966 1 April 1970 2007


External links

French frigate Duquesne (D603)

Duquesne is a Suffren-class frigate of the French Navy. The French Navy does not use the term "destroyer" for its ships; hence some large ships, referred to as "frigates", are registered as destroyers. She is designed to protect a fleet against air threats, surface ships, submarines, and, to a lesser extent, provide firepower against land objectives. She is the sister-ship of Suffren. She is the eighth French vessel named after the 17th century admiral Abraham Duquesne. Her weapon systems bear names of battles to which Duquesne took part: Messine (turret n°1), Palerme (turret n°2), Alicuri (Malafon launcher), Agosta (Masurca launcher) and Stromboli (MM38 launcher).

Duquesne was decommissioned in 2008, but has been retained for use as a training ship.

French frigate Suffren

Suffren was a Suffren-class frigate of the French Navy, designed to protect a fleet against air threats, surface ships, submarines, and, to a lesser extent, provide firepower against land objectives. She is the sister-ship of Duquesne, and was decommissioned in 2001. She was the seventh French vessel named after the 18th century admiral Pierre André de Suffren; her artillery turrets are named after ships commanded by the marquis of Suffren: turret n°1 is named Héros ("hero") after the ship of the line Héros, and turret n°2 is named Fantasque, after the ship of the line Fantasque.

The French navy doesn't use the term "destroyer" for its ships; thus some large ships, such as Suffren, referred to as "frigates", are registered as destroyers. With her sister-ship, she was the first missile-launching destroyer of the French Navy. She was designed to protect the French aircraft carriers Foch and Clemenceau against air and submarine threats. In 2001, Suffren was put in the reserve, her machinery becoming too expensive to maintain.

The dome-like structure surrounding the DRBI23 radar is reminiscent of the Dutch Tromp-class guided missile frigates and has on occasion led to confusion when identifying between the two ship classes.

French ship Duquesne

Nine ships of the French Navy have been named in honour of Abraham Duquesne:

Duquesne (1787), a 74-gun ship of the line

Duquesne (1811), a captured Russian 73-gun ship, used as a school ship

Duquesne (1813) a Bucentaure-class 80-gun ship of the line

Duquesne (1847), a steam and sail ship of the line

Duquesne (1876) an ironclad cruiser

Duquesne (1914), an unbuilt Lyon-class battleship

Duquesne, a heavy cruiser (1924–1955)

Duquesne (D603), a Suffren-class frigate

A Barracuda-class submarine is scheduled to bear the name

Guided missile destroyer

A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.

In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.


Malafon (MArine LAtécoère FONds) was a French ship-launched anti-submarine missile system. Developed in the 1950s and 1960s, the weapon was intended to take advantage of the greater detection ranges possible with towed sonar arrays. The missile entered service in 1966 and was manufactured by Groupe Latécoère

The weapon is essentially a glider-delivered version of the L4 torpedo. The launcher is a circular mount, which allows the weapon to be slewed to the correct bearing, whereupon it is fired at a fixed elevation of +15°. Two solid booster rockets accelerate it to 830 km/h within 4 seconds before falling away. The unpowered glider continues at an altitude of 100 meters, altering course in mid-flight under radio control of the launch platform. Effective range was 13 km. As it reaches the target, the glider drops the torpedo, which splashes into the sea and commences a circular search pattern. The range of the Malafon meant that it was expected to hit the water within 800 m of the submarine's location. The L4 torpedo had a speed of 30 kt over a range of 5 km.

The Malafon was a large weapon, with each missile weighing 1,330 kg. As a result, it was only employed on larger vessels. It was typically used for medium- and long-range submarine targets, though it could have been used against surface ships.

The system was never used at war. It was declared obsolete in 1997. It was replaced by Westland Lynx helicopters using Mark 46 torpedoes.

Suffren-class frigates


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