April 15 (CNN) — A French plan to “stitch nuclear submarines” is under way, CNN reported Thursday. The plan cuts two older nuclear submarines and welds them into a new submarine that meets service standards.
In June 2020, the French nuclear-powered submarine Pearl caught fire while undergoing maintenance. France’s defence ministry said the 14-hour fire caused structural damage to the first half of the submarine that could not be repaired. However, the second half of the submarine was not damaged.
French officials believe the undamaged part could be stitched together with The Pearl’s sister nuclear submarine, sapphire, to create a new submarine capable of serving. The Sapphire, which will be decommissioned in 2019, has been shipped to the shipyard pending demolition. So in December 2020, the Pearl was sent by a semi-submersible ship to Cherbourg, France, where sapphire was located.
Reported that the new submarine will still be named “Pearl”, will be 1.4 meters more than before the “connection zone” for the placement of miles of cable and plumbing facilities. In addition, the area is equipped with a living area for boat crews.
In February and March 2021, workers have halved the Pearl and Sapphire, according to the French navy group. In early April, the second half of the Pearl and the first half of the Sapphire were fitted with “walking devices” in the shipyard for their smooth docking and welding together. A spokesman for the French navy group said the stitching was expected to be completed in the coming months.
CNN noted that this is not the first time that France has done so in the world. Thomas Shugart, a retired U.S. commanding officer of an attack submarine, said the U.S. Navy used a similar approach when repairing the SAN Francisco, which ran aground in 2005.