The military ship, the Auguste Bénébig, is one of six patrol boats designed to reinforce the French Navy’s resources in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is at sea to reach Noumea.
It weighs 1,300 tonnes and has a range of 5,500 nautical miles (10,000 km). It is equipped with an aerial mini-drone. The Auguste Bénébig will “ensure the sovereignty of France”. In particular, it will monitor trafficking and illegal fishing. With nearly 11 million square kilometres, France’s maritime domain is the largest in the world after the United States.
Measuring 80 m long and 12 m wide, the Auguste Bénébig is the first of a series of six boats. They will be based in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Reunion Island by 2025. These vessels are to replace the patrol boats built in the 1980s to monitor the French Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These P400 patrol boats have almost all been retired, except for La Glorieuse in Noumea. They are equipped with a hybrid propulsion (diesel/electric), which allows them to reach a maximum speed of 24 knots (44 km/h). They carry state-of-the-art equipment and 30 sailors. The Auguste Bénébig should reach Noumea, via the Panama Canal, in just under three months. After a verification phase of its military capabilities, it should be admitted to active service before the summer.