Listeners to the 6e On Friday 9 and Saturday 10 October, participants in the national "Maritime Challenges and Strategies" (MSS) session headed for the Pays-de-la-Loire region for a two-day seminar in Nantes and Saint-Nazaire. This region is a model of dynamism in the maritime sector, with nuggets in shipbuilding, marine renewable energies and innovative marine technologies.
Early on Friday morning, the session docked at Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, the world leader in cruise ship construction. The visit gave the audience a chance to discover this emblematic shipyard, where the aircraft carriers Foch and Clémenceau were built, and from where the battleship Jean-Bart set sail in 1940 under incredible conditions. They were welcomed by Philippe KASSE, the Group's Director of Communications and Public Relations, and Mickaël Le Gal, Head of Naval Ships, and a member of the 3e ESM. Over and above the impressive infrastructure - the largest in Europe, including the gigantic 900-metre-long assembly mould and the 1,400-tonne capacity lifting bridge - it is the excellence of the engineering and construction processes that, through their mastery of complexity and technology, give the group its exceptional productivity. The world's largest ocean liners are built in less than three years. After fascinating discussions with Philippe KASSE on all the major challenges facing the civil shipbuilding industry, the audience was able to see how the MSC VIRTUOSA in its final phase of construction came to fruition.
More unexpected was the sight of an enormous platform for connecting a field of offshore wind turbines to the onshore electricity grid. Chantiers de l'Atlantique has diversified its business into marine renewable energy (MRE). This provided an ideal setting for a round-table discussion on the subject, which brought together Frédéric GRIZAUD, its Marine Energies Business Unit Director, Stevens CURET, Chairman of GE Offshore France and GE Wind France SAS, and Vincent Bales, Managing Director of WPD Offshores and 3rd ESM auditor. They were able to explore the political, economic, technical and administrative aspects of this sector, which is now booming after a difficult start in France. The lively and fascinating debates enabled the audience to discover the extraordinary dynamism of this young sector, whose impressive prospects were undreamt of just a few years ago. Contrary to popular belief, MRE is now capable of producing electricity at a very competitive price. They represent a major challenge and, without doubt, part of the solution to the current climate challenge.
In the afternoon, the listeners set sail for the neighbouring General Electric (GE) factory where they met up with Stevens CURET, who was able to give them a hands-on demonstration of the construction of the wind turbines he had told them about at the morning round table. The assembly line for floating offshore wind turbine rotors - blocks weighing over 400 tonnes, assembled to the nearest millimetre - particularly impressed the audience, not only because of the size of the objects handled, but also because of the technological performance and mastery of a process that enables a rotor to be produced every three days. They were able to appreciate the sheer size of these gigantic wind turbines, which can be as tall as the Eiffel Tower.
The final highlight of the day was a welcome to the national training centre of the French National Sea Rescue Society (SNSM), which saves around 8,000 people a year, both on beaches and in the open sea, promoting the solidarity of all seafarers. After a debate lasting over an hour on the challenges of this major national cause, Didier Moreau, SNSM Training Director, launched the audience at the helm of the lifeboats in the training centre's navigation simulators. Although departure in fine weather went relatively well, the listeners soon found themselves in over their heads with the arrival of thunderstorms and nightfall, giving them a first-hand experience of the particularly difficult conditions encountered by SNSM volunteers during shipwreck rescue operations.
From the early hours of Saturday morning, the audience travelled to Technocampus Océan in Nantes, where they were met by Hubert Lécuyer, co-director of the site, and Didier Besnard, deputy director of CEA Tech. The morning was devoted to the major challenges of technological research and innovation in the naval sector. Philippe Baclet, Director of WeAMEC, and Pierre Serre-Combe, Director of the CEA's Laboratory for Innovation in New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials, joined Didier Besnard to lead a morning of particularly rich debate, under the intense fire of questions from the audience. They were able to discover the extraordinary dynamism of research in the maritime sector, as well as the particularly virtuous ecosystem put in place by the Pays de Loire region. CEA Tech plays a little-known leading role in supporting businesses in the region, at the heart of a decompartmentalised organisation that creates an exceptional synergy between the State, the academic world and businesses.
On Saturday afternoon, the auditors devoted half a day to their committee work, the initial ideas for which will be presented to the IHEDN management at their next seminar on 20 and 21 November in Toulon.