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Cadarache — A safe port for submarines

Robert Arnoux

It is big and it is blue... the Reacteur d'Essai (RES)
Photos courtesy of CEA (Click to view larger version...)
It is big and it is blue... the Reacteur d'Essai (RES) Photos courtesy of CEA
General de Gaulle in the control room, Cadarache, November 1967 (Click to view larger version...)
General de Gaulle in the control room, Cadarache, November 1967
If you ever wondered what is inside this big blue building you pass every morning on the way to work: it will soon house the Reacteur d'Essai (RES), a fourth generation naval propulsion test reactor.

Developing reactors for the French Navy was one of the main reasons why Cadarache was established in 1959. General de Gaulle wanted to move fast and a first on-shore prototype, whose descendants were to operate in the early generation of French ballistic submarines, was operational in 1964.

Construction of the RES will be completed by 2010. It will be "a research installation" more than an actual prototype: It will act as support for the French nuclear fleet and contribute to the training of their officers; test new fuels and new core architectures; validate computational models and simulations and "qualify new concepts". Among them, the Barracuda-class fast attack submarines, a programme with a price tag close to 8 billion euros.


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