This year we’re thrilled to welcome the French Navy to Drogheda as part of the Irish Maritime Festival. On Friday, as part of the Parade of Sail (noon on Friday 15th June), 3 French Sonar Towing Ships (more commonly known as Minesweepers) will join the Tall Ships, Tug Boats and yachts as they sail up the Boyne.
The M770 Antares, M771 Altair and M772 Aldebaran were commissioned in 1993. They were ordered to replace the last of the oceanic mine sweepers and act as sonar tugs. Built in the Socarenam shipyard in Boulanger-sur-Mer, they are similar in shape and size to trawlers and are strong and powerful vessels that act as sonar towing ships.
Their role in the French Navy is to provide surveillance for French vessels accessing the Atlantic ports, especially Brest where the Oceanic Strategic Force are positioned. The purpose of their work is to detect and destroy mines in the water that could detonate, damaging vessels and harming crew. They do this by sonar surveillance of the seabed using the DUBM44 sonar system.
They also play a pivotal role in the training of navigation students and engage in public security missions including sea-rescue and wrecks reconnaissance.
Each one is 28m long and nearly 8m wide. They travel at a maximum speed of 11knots and have an engine capability of 3,500 miles, powered by a Baudoin 800 horse power engine. They travel with 25 crew on board each one.
The names Altair, Antares and Aldebaran are derived from stars in the sky, which have always acted as important markers for maritime navigators. Each of these are the brightest stars in their respective constellations, Aquila, Scorpius and Taurus.
We’re thrilled to offer visitors to the Irish Maritime Festival the opportunity to climb aboard these vessels on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June to explore them. We will endeavour to accommodate everyone who wants to visit but please come early to avoid disappointment. Gates open from 11am, ships open from 12.30 pm.