French submarine Gymnote (S655)

Name: Gymnote
Namesake: Gymnotus
Ordered: 1961
Builder: Arsenal de Cherbourg
Laid down: 17 March 1963
Launched: 17 March 1964
Commissioned: 17 October 1966
Out of service: 1986
Identification: S655
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type: none
Type: Submarine
  • 3,000 tons surfaced
  • 3,250 tons submerged
Length: 84.0 m (275.6 ft)
Beam: 10.6 m (35 ft)
Draught: 7.6 m (25 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shaft diesel electric
  • 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) surfaced
  • 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) submerged
Complement: 78 men
Armament: 4 launch tubes for SLBM

Gymnote (S655) was an experimental submarine of the French Navy. She was a trials submarine for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and powered by diesel electric engines. She is named in honour of Gymnote, the world's first all-electric submarine built in France in the late 19th century.

The French planned a nuclear propelled submarine in the late 1950s and laid down a hull (no Q244). Because France had not developed uranium enrichment facilities at the time, the planned power plant was to be a heavy water reactor, which could utilize natural uranium. But French engineers were unable to produce a reactor small enough to fit into the submarine, which led to the project being canceled in 1959.[1]

In the early 1960s the French government decided to develop an independent nuclear deterrent based on SLBM's. Hull Q244 was redesigned as a trials submarine with four missile tubes in an extended casing. Gymnote was commissioned in 1966 and fired the first M-1 missile in 1968. The M-1 missile was subsequently deployed aboard the Redoutable-class submarines. She was extensively rebuilt in 1977-79 to enable trials of the new M-4 missile. Gymnote was decommissioned in 1986.



  1. Archived October 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.


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