Environmentally friendly dismantling for two of the French Navy’s old favorites

Posted on 12 April 2018.

Since 2014, Veolia has been managing asbestos removal and dismantling on the Q860 and Q683 hulls – ex-helicopter cruiser Jeanne d'Arc and ex-cruiser Colbert, which military authorities had decided to remove from active service.

Veolia and the French Navy ensure environmentally friendly industrial dismantling for the Jeanne d'Arc - 90% of her materials recovered!/p>

In 2014, Veolia was entrusted with breaking up two French Navy favorites, hulls Q860 and Q683 - ex-helicopter cruiser Jeanne d'Arc and the ex-cruiser Colbert, which military authorities had decided to remove from active service.

This major project reflects the French Navy's aim to dismantle and recycle end-of-life vessels using a sustainable development approach - and at the same time protect both the environment and people.

The goal set for the ex-Jeanne d'Arc was to recycle 90% of her materials: mainly iron, but also non-ferrous metals, electrical and electronic equipment, cables, wood and even furniture. The remaining 10% was channeled into specialist treatment sectors: non-hazardous industrial waste, hazardous waste, asbestos waste (nearly 350 metric tonnes), and hydrocarbon effluents.

An extraordinary two phase operation

The imposing size of the ex-Jeanne d'Arc - 180 meters long and 9,000 metric tonnes – meant dismantling her was a project on an exceptional scale. "La Jeanne", as her sailors called her, took to the seas for the first time in 1964. The helicopter carrier warship was a teaching and training vessel for generations of Navy officers and ended her career having completed 797 stopovers in 84 countries worldwide before being retired in 2010. Her final voyage, in October 2014, took her from Brest to Bassens, on the Port of Bordeaux. The site has a 240 meter long and 35 meter wide dry dock capable of accommodating ships of this size.

Veolia's waste recovery and recycling business in France led the project in two phases. The first phase consisted of decontaminating and removing hazardous materials, such as asbestos. An extremely complex process - almost 40 asbestos removal operatives were working on it for over a year - it required constant respiratory support and total containment to ensure maximum safety for both the personnel concerned and the environment. Given the exceptional scale of the operations, the project was not only a technical exploit but also demanded the most stringent safety standards.

The second phase heralded the actual start of dismantling operations. First the superstructure was cut into pieces of steel weighing about 20 tonnes, which were cut and graded. Then the hull could be dismantled. Another of the project’s strengths lay in the full traceability of not only the reusable materials but also the waste produced during dismantling. The steel was transported to the Basque country in France and Spain where it was re-smelted, other non-ferrous metals were sent to French and European foundries, WEEE was processed on the Veolia site in Angers, and liquids and fluids went to the Bassens SIAP site – part of the Veolia Group SARPI.



At the beginning of 2017, the Colbert took the place of Jeanne d'Arc – its 8,500 tonnes are now almost completely dismantled. It will have taken nearly four years to complete these two projects, which highlight French industrial recycling excellence.

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