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Stopover in Pays de la Loire for the IHEDN "Maritime issues and strategies" major

On Friday 12 and Saturday 13 May 2023, students in the 2nd national session of the "Maritime Issues and Strategies" (ESM) major headed for the Pays de la Loire 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. The region is also home to a key SNSM organisation: its national training centre.
Les auditeurs de la majeure "Enjeux et stratégies maritimes" (ESM) de la 2e session nationale ont mis le cap vers les Pays de la Loire pour un séminaire de deux jours à Nantes et Saint-Nazaire les vendredi 12 et samedi 13 mai 2023.
Laurent CASTAING en pleine explication aux auditeurs
Laurent CASTAING in full explanation to listeners

Early on Friday morning, the major docked at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, one of the world leaders in cruise ship construction and, above all, the shipyard in charge of building France's future new-generation nuclear aircraft carrier, the famous PANG. The visit gave the audience an opportunity to discover this emblematic shipyard, where the aircraft carriers Foch and Clémenceaufrom which the battleship Jean-Bart set sail in 1940 under incredible circumstances. They were welcomed by Laurent CASTAINGGroup CEO.

During the fascinating, no-holds-barred interviews with this man, listeners were impressed by the excellence of the engineering and construction processes which, 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. They will also remember the strategic dimension of Chantiers de l'Atlantique for France, the impressive efforts made by the entire cruise industry in terms of decarbonisation and environmental protection, but also the difficulties encountered by the French industry, particularly in recruiting and retaining the necessary talent.

This was followed by a presentation of the new-generation aircraft carrier programme by Olivier de SAINT-JULIENof Naval Group and Chairman of MO-PA, together with Hugues MARTELproject manager at Chantiers de l'Atlantique. The audience was given an insight into this huge project, which is strategic for France's sovereignty and requires the skills of almost all the major French DITB manufacturers.

Olivier de Saint-Julien et Hugues Martel présentant le PANG
Olivier de Saint-Julien and Hugues Martel presenting PANG

A round table on marine renewable energies (MRE) then brought together Antoine MONTEILLETSkyborn France's Atlantic coastline manager, Frédéric GRIZAUDDirector Marine Energies Business Unit "from Chantiers de l'Atlantique, and Steven CURETChairman of GE WIND FRANCE SAS. All the political, economic, technical and administrative aspects of this sector, which is now booming after a difficult start in France, were explored in depth. The debates enabled the audience to discover the extraordinary dynamism of the offshore wind industry, whose impressive prospects were undreamt of just a few years ago. Contrary to popular belief, offshore wind turbines are now capable of producing electricity at a very competitive price without subsidies, and are undoubtedly part of the solution to the climate challenge.

Antoine MONTEILLET, Frédéric GRIZAUD et Steven CURET répondant aux questions des auditeurs
Antoine MONTEILLET, Frédéric GRIZAUD and Steven CURET answer listeners' questions

After this first series of lectures, the audience was given a tour of this huge shipyard, which boasts some of the largest infrastructures in Europe, such as the gigantic 900-metre-long assembly hall and the 1,400-tonne capacity lifting bridge. The first stop was at the foot of the 'Solid Sail' demonstrator, where the following awaited them Emeric LACROIXproject engineer.   

Les auditeurs autour d’Emeric Lacroix au pied de Solid Sail
Listeners around Emeric Lacroix at the foot of Solid Sail

They then felt very small next to the liner "Utopia of the Seas", which was still under construction. But it was certainly the visit to the cruise ship "MSC EURIBIA", ready to sail, that made them realise what a challenge it was to build such a vessel in such a short space of time. 

Dans la fosse devant l’Utopia of the Seas
In the pit in front of Utopia of the Seas
Les auditeurs à la barre du MSC EURIBIA
Auditors at the helm of the MSC EURIBIA

After a quick lunch, the auditors headed for the national training centre of the Société nationale de sauvetage en mer (SNSM). They were welcomed there by its president, Emmanuel de OLIVEIRAand Didier MOREAUthe training director. Some 8,000 people a year are rescued by this association of volunteers, both on and off the beaches, in a spirit of solidarity with seafarers. An hour's debate with the audience enabled them to appreciate the commitment of these volunteer rescuers, which does not prevent them from being true professionals thanks to the particularly rigorous training they receive and the state diplomas they are awarded.

Didier Moreau expliquant aux auditeurs l’importance de disposer de bénévoles parfaitement formés
Didier Moreau explaining to listeners the importance of having fully trained volunteers

Cast off at the helm of a lifeboat to rescue a shipwrecked sailor, it didn't take long for the audience to realise just how difficult the task was - fortunately, the lifeboats were simulators.

Les auditeurs et leurs hôtes devant le centre de formation de la SNSM
The auditors and their guests in front of the SNSM training centre
Une auditrice à la barre bénéficiant des explications de Didier Moreau
A listener on the stand listening to Didier Moreau's explanations

To round off the visit to Saint-Nazaire, listeners were able to visit a Customs coastguard launch moored nearby and hear explanations fromArnaud PICARDIn December, the auditors had the chance to visit a Customs Beechcraft aircraft at the Lann-Bihoué base. In December, the auditors had already had the chance to visit a customs Beechcraft aircraft at the Lann-Bihoué base.  

Arnaud Picard en pleine explication aux auditeurs
Arnaud Picard in full explanation to listeners

The audience then headed back to Nantes, but the day was not over yet, as they were treated to a final reflection on the major challenges facing marine biology, a field whose strategic importance is still too often overlooked. Indeed Gwenaël BAUDIMANTChairman and CEO of the Phosphotec group of laboratories and an auditor of the major, organised a dinner-debate on the subject. The audience realised the extraordinary potential of marine biology, particularly in the pharmaceutical field, and the opportunity that our country has with its large exclusive economic zone, provided that we exploit it ourselves and do not allow it to be plundered by others. 

Gwenaël Baudimant expliquant à ses camarades les grands enjeux liés aux biologies marines
Gwenaël Baudimant explaining the major challenges of marine biology to his classmates

After a well-deserved rest, the listeners set off early on Saturday morning for the Technocampus Ocean from Nantes where they were Didier BESNARDAdvisor to the Chairman of the CEA[1] and IHEDN auditor. The auditors 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 la Loire region. CEA Tech plays a little-known leading role in supporting businesses in this region, at the heart of a decompartmentalised organisation that provides exceptional synergy between the State, the academic world and businesses.

Pierre SERRE-COMBEfrom CEA's energy programmes department, and Masa KAGEYAMA from the CEA-CNRS Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement joined Didier BESNARD to lead a morning of particularly rich debate, with a steady stream of questions from listeners.

[1] French Atomic Energy Commission.

The afternoon was then devoted to a case study designed by Dr Zivile KALIBATAITE from IHEDN's 'Studies and Research' department. The auditors were asked to prepare a proposal to be submitted to the President of the Republic at a Defence Council meeting in 2030, with each auditor playing the role of a stakeholder authority: SGDSN, minister, chief of staff, major defence industrialist, etc.

Intense préparation d’un conseil de défense fictif lors de l’étude de cas
Intense preparation of a fictitious defence council during the case study

After two days of intense debate and fascinating visits, the participants returned to their home ports, already looking forward to the closing seminar.