Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.
Block 5For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN
Working with compositesAt regular intervals since the early 1950s, DCN’s Cherbourg shipyard has expanded the use of state-of-the-art composite materials in submarine construction.
The first-of-class SSBN Le Redoutable commissioned in December 1971 was the first French submarine to use composites. With advantages ranging from reduced maintenance to increased resistance to seawater corrosion, composite components progressively replaced selected items made of aluminium alloys and steel. By the time the fifth-of-class Le Tonnant was commissioned in 1977, most SSBN topside structures – including the sail or conning tower and its bridge along with the hydroplanes and rudder – were made of composites. The mid-1980s saw the introduction of pre-impregnated or ‘prepreg’ composites and vacuum-bag lay-up techniques resulting in tighter control over thickness. This process includes autoclave curing in stages up to 120°C. The new-generation high-performance components produced in this way include hydrodynamic sonar domes and external decking for Améthyste-class attack submarines. These innovations also met the dimensional and geometrical tolerances specified for the sonar domes, propulsor shrouds and other items for Le Triomphant-class SSBNs. Moulds produced by CNC machine tools were another important innovation. The proportion of composite parts incorporated into successive designs has risen steadily from 42 tonnes for Le Redoutable to 157 tonnes for Le Triomphant-class SSBNs.
Caption: Mockup of hydrodynamic dome for first-of-class new-generation SSBN Le Triomphant
- 'SSBN topside structures': My first draft read 'structures that are visible when the boat is fully surfaced'. This is not a question of terminology proper in that 'topside' is not directly equivalent to 'la plupart des structures visibles en surface'. Translation students and beginners might, however, take note as this is a good example of how in-depth specialisation and broad reading can help translators to find elegant solutions that go well beyond the boundaries of conventional terminological research.
- 'sail or conning tower': 'conning tower' is widely known thanks to countless occurrences in literature, films and games but not in wide use in naval writing. On the other hand, the technically correct 'sail' is so odd-looking for non-specialists that it seems advisable to mention both. The Wikipedia article entitled submarine explains as follows:
- 'the sail or conning tower and its bridge': I've added 'its' here to make it clear that the 'bridge' in question is part of the sail. Here too this seems advisable because non-specialists are liable to to be confused by this submarine-specific usage as opposed to the word's more common meaning in naval texts on surface vessels.
- 'CNC machine tools': I have assumed that readers will be familiar with the acronym 'CNC' for 'computer numercial control'.
- The French text is open to criticism given the mismatch between the large number of technical terms that are left unexplained compared with the more journalistic style. In this respect, the English is open to the same criticism.