Nuclear submarine Le Triomphant (1997). This 1:100 scale model of „Le Triomphant“ is another masterpiece by our dear friend Maurice Verhaaren. The model is currently in the museum’s depot, waiting to be added to our submarine section on deck 5 of the museum.
Le Triomphant is a next generation nuclear submarine (Sous-Marin Nucléaire Lanceur d’Engins de Nouvelle Génération, SNLE-NG for short). It is the namesake for a class of 4 submarines that form the maritime component of the French Republic’s nuclear forces. During the Cold War, the nuclear powers developed the strategy of always keeping parts of their nuclear weapons ready for deterrence purposes. Ballistic missile submarines are one way of keeping these capabilities not only ready but also on the move. The Triomphant class was developed during the last decade of the Cold War. Originally, six units were planned, but with the end of the Cold War, these plans were reduced to four, two of which are permanently on patrol. The end of the Cold War by no means meant the end of geopolitical tensions between the nuclear powers, and so large investments continue to be made in nuclear defenses.
The Triomphant class was built to replace the older Redoutable class of the French Marine Nationale. They are much larger, have much improved sonar systems and, above all, are extremely quiet. They can dive to depths of up to 400 m and are operated by a crew of up to 128. With a nuclear reactor for propulsion, their radius of action is virtually unlimited, and they usually carry supplies for 90 days. In addition to their regular armament of torpedoes and missiles, they permanently carry 16 M45 submarine ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a range of 6,000 km. These missiles were specially developed for „Le Triomphant“ in 1996. Since 2010, they have been replaced by the newer M51s, which have a range of probably up to 10,000 km and each contain up to 10 nuclear warheads that can be used against independent targets.
Design of „Le Triomphant“ began in 1981 and construction in 1986 at the DNL naval shipyard in Cherbourg, where all her sisters were also built. She was launched in 1993 and a long process of completion and testing began until she was commissioned in 1997. Her sisters „Le Téméraire“ and „Le Vigilant“ followed in 1999 and 2004 respectively. The upgraded „Le Terrible“ was commissioned in 2010 and the three older sisters were subsequently brought up to standard. All four submarines are still in service today.