I am always interested in unusual looking ships and a friend of mine, who like me, is also a fan of Madeira as a holiday destination sent me a photograph of French ship Monge taken at Funchal in early July.
She looks highly unusual and on following it up, I discovered she is, indeed, a very specialised vessel – 'A Missile Range Instrumentation Ship'. Launched in October 1990, she was commissioned into the French Navy in November 1992.
Her main role is said to be to track and test SLBMS (Ballistic Missiles) during their test programmes. She is also used to track anything in the air or space as an intelligence collection vessel. She is painted white instead of the usual gray to minimise the deformation of the shell under the heat of the sun – as very precise settings are necessary for her onboard radars and other highly technical equipment carried.
It is thought that FS Monge A601 is one of the few, if not the only ship of her type in the world. She does, indeed, look like something out of science fiction!