The French Navy is expanding the crew of FREMM frigates by almost 20%

The French Navy has just announced its intention to increase the crew size of its FREMMs, so as to strengthen the resilience of the ships. Each frigate will see its crew reinforced by 20 members, an increase of almost 20%, excluding the naval aviation detachment.

There is no doubt that the deployments of the Languedoc frigate, of the Aquitaine class, then of the Alsace, of the eponymous class, in the Red Sea, to escort and protect civilian ships from Houthi drones and missiles, will have been rich in lessons on the cumulative fatigue of the crews after a few weeks of high tension.

This decision goes against, however, a trend towards reducing the size of military crews, and more particularly frigates, within Western navies, both due to technological advances in automation and digitization of ships, as well as to respond to the tensions, sometimes severe, which affect these navies, in terms of manpower.

The temptation to reduce the size of military ship crews, faced with the HR crisis of the Armed Forces

A few weeks ago, the director of internal affairs of the British group Babcock, John Howie, revealed the objective pursued concerning the design of the new Type 32 frigate of the Royal Navy, of reduce the ship's crew to around fifty members.

Frigate Type 32 Royal navy babcock
The Type 32 Frigate will be based on the same hull as the Type 31, but will carry additional capabilities, particularly in terms of anti-submarine warfare.

According to him, this trajectory was logical, being part of the decline observed previously, going from 185 crew members for the Type 23 frigates of the Duke class, to 105 for the new Type 31s which must enter service during the second half a decade, then 50, for the Type 32s which succeeded them.

The British naval group is betting on the evolution of automation, robotization and virtual presence technologies to achieve this, and thus provide an unexpected response to the Royal Navy, which is encountering immense problems regarding its workforce.

As is often the case, reactions to this announcement were divided, with on one side its supporters considering it audacious, but realistic, and on the other, those who viewed it with amazement, believing that the workload on board a frigate , would not be satisfied with such a small crew.

Improving the combat resilience of the crew of the FREMM frigates of the French Navy

In this area, the recent announcement made by the French Navy will certainly add fuel to the debate. In fact, it has just announced that it will, in the coming months, increase the size of the crew of its FREMM of the Aquitaine and Alsace classes, from 20 members, to reach 140 people, air detachment included.

For the French Navy, it is a question of responding to recent feedback, such as those concerning the Languedoc and Alsace frigates, during their deployment in the Red Sea, to escort commercial ships and protect them from Houthi missiles and drones.

French Navy Frigate FREMM Languedoc
The frigate Languedoc ensured the protection of commercial naval traffic in the Red Sea for more than two months, during which the crew had to remain at a high level of vigilance.

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