Naval Group Lays Keel of Greece’s Third Defense and Intervention Frigate

French shipbuilder Naval Group has laid the keel of the Hellenic Navy’s third defense and intervention frigate (FDI) in Lorient.

The ceremony followed the delivery in February of pre-outfitted hull blocks developed by Ampelakia-based industry partner Salamis Shipyards.

The project will now proceed to the assembly of these parts at Naval Group’s Lorient facility.

France’s Defense and Intervention Frigate Program

Paris unveiled the FDI program in 2013 to expand the French Navy’s capabilities for more complex battlefields.

By 2035, the FDI’s resulting fleet is expected to take over the role of France’s La Fayette-class multi-purpose frigates in service since the 1980s.

Under this initiative, the program ordered five frigates in 2017. Four years later, the keel-laying for the lead ship, Amiral Ronarc’h (D660), was conducted.

Belharra for Greece

In 2021, the French and Greek governments agreed to deliver three FDI vessels to the Hellenic Navy, with Naval Group as the primary contractor. Export variants produced under this framework are designated Belharra-class ships.

Naval Group received the contract to build the Greek FDIs with an option for a fourth additional ship in 2022. Athens named the third frigate “HS Formion” (F-603) the same year.

Keel laying of Hellenic Navy's third defense and intervention frigate
Keel laying of Hellenic Navy’s third defense and intervention frigate HS Formion (F-603). Photo: Naval Group

“Naval Group is proud… to be a part of this new chapter in the strategic alliance between Greece and France. Greece has chosen the latest generation of frigates that bring together the best of French naval know-how and will strengthen the capabilities of the Hellenic Navy,” Naval Group CEO Pierre Éric Pommellet remarked during the Greek FDI contract signing.

“The frigates program is the first of many steps in the partnership between Naval Group and the Hellenic Navy and will contribute to the development of the partnership between our countries, our navies and our industries for decades to come.”

The FDI Fleet

Each FDI frigate measures 122 meters (499 feet) long and has a 17.7-meter (88-foot) beam.

It is powered by a combined diesel and diesel or CODAD engine for a maximum speed of 27 knots (50 kilometers/31 miles per hour) and endurance of up to 45 days.

An FDI can carry more than 120 personnel and one helicopter with specifications similar to the NH90, H160, and MH-60R Seahawk.

The ship is integrated with active electronically scanned array radar, countermeasure decoys, multi-domain missiles, torpedoes, and mounted rapid guns.

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