This Saturday, in its shipyard in the Bay of Cádiz, Navantia launched the fifth corvette built for the Saudi Arabia Royal Navy (RSNF), which bears the name of Unayzah, in homage to this city located north of the country’s capital.
The event, held at the San Fernando shipyard, was attended by the Commander of the Royal Saudi Navy, Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily; the Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez; the general secretary for Industry and SMEs, Raül Blanco and the chairman of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez. Admiral Admiral General Antonio Martorell Lacave, Spanish Navy Chief of Staff, and Walid Abukhaled, the CEO of SAMI (Saudi Arabia Military Industries), were linked by video. The launching ceremony was carried out with health security measures and was attended by Navantia workers and their families.
The event began with a reading of the Koran, followed by the projection of several videos: on the city of Unayzah, which gives its name to the ship, on the Avante 2200 programme and on the construction of this fifth corvette. José Antonio Rodriguez Poch, the Director of the Corvettes and Maritime Action Vessel Business, welcomed the participants and thanked the workers for their commitment to the programme, as well as those who completed the preparations for the launch.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Royal Saudi Navy Commander highlighted that the launch of the five corvettes, with such a short and demanding schedule, has been a remarkable achievement and a clear sign of Navantia’s commitment to meet each milestone of the project with high quality standards.
The Vice Admiral expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the endless support provided to the RNSF. He also had words of gratitude to the chairman of Navantia and the Navy Chief of Staff for the valuable contribution of the Spanish Navy to the success of the project. In addition, he addressed the crew that will take over the ship after its commissioning, highlighting the great responsibility that they have been assigned to set the standards for the new class of ships.
The chairman of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, expressed words of gratitude to the personnel who have worked in the construction of a ship “with the best qualities and complying with the established deadlines, despite the multiple challenges”.
“Comrades from Navantia and partnering industries, I warmly thank you all, you have made it possible for the launch of this corvette to be celebrated. This act shows the result of the good work of our people. It is not always easy to visualize the result of an effort so clearly”, he pointed out.
“You are the protagonists of today event”, Ricardo Domínguez said, reiterating his “total commitment to the future of this Shipyard and the industrial ecosystem of the Bay of Cádiz”.
In addition, he thanked the Spanish Navy, the Royal Saudi Navy and the Defence Ministries of both countries for their continued support for the success of the programme. “Spain and Saudi Arabia are united by strong and lasting ties and today, given that international collaboration is essential, strengthening an association that already exists is the best way to face the present and the future,” the Navantia chairman said, adding that the company, as “an internationally recognized leader in the sector for its quality and technology, will be the most reliable partner for future projects.”
The Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, congratulated the personnel who made the construction of the five corvettes possible: “They are a source of pride for all of you, as they perfectly reflect the strong technological capabilities of Spain and the competitiveness of the Spanish Defence industry, which you represent so perfectly. This is also a Spain brand,” he remarked.
“We are very proud of this programme and of the five corvettes that we have built here because they are a shining example of the solid Spanish technological capacity,” the Secretary of State said.
Admiral Martorell Lacave underlined his personal commitment and that of the Spanish Navy to the project and thanked “the trust that the Royal Saudi Navy has placed in the Spanish Navy to supervise the execution of this innovative naval programme.”
“So far, all areas of this important and transcendental naval programme have been successful, including the necessary operational training, in which the Spanish Navy has been especially involved, the instruction of future crews and the evaluation of modern equipment and complex systems,” he said. Admiral Martorell Lacave also thanked all the personnel involved in the programme for their effort to minimize the impact of the pandemic on execution.
For his part, the CEO of SAMI expressed his pride in the successes achieved by the company through its strategic alliances with RSNF and Navantia. These milestones have culminated in the Unayzah ship, the last of the five Avante 2200 corvettes. “We are proud of the countless achievements this programme has contributed to, such as the establishment of SAMINavantia, the launch of HAZEM, the first 100% Saudi naval combat management system that was developed through technology transfer, and the launch of the on-the-job training programme, which was attended by 21 Saudi male and female engineers.”
“The successful completion of the project represents a quantum leap in SAMI’s efforts to enhance Saudi Arabia’s capabilities in maritime technology systems and strengthen the country’s defence ecosystem,” he added.
The ceremony concluded when Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily cut the ribbon, with which the corvette ‘Unayzah’, after receiving the impact of the bottle with water from Mecca, slid down the stands until it touched water for the first time. Work on the corvette will continue afloat until its delivery in Spain, scheduled for August 2023. The ship will be completed in Saudi Arabia and will be delivered in February 2024.
During his visit, Vice Admiral Al-Ghofaily visited the San Fernando shipyard and the Navantia Training Center (NTC), the center equipped with state-of-the-art technology where sailors and corvettes maintainers are being trained. In addition, he learned about the ground training equipment (Land Based Training Site, LBTS) and the simulators at Navantia Sistemas.
The Avante 2200 Programme
The corvette ‘Unayzah’ is the fifth in the series that form the Avante 2200 programme. It is 104 meters long, hasa 14 meters beam, and will be capable of transporting a total of 102 people between crew and passengers.
A state-of-the-art design corvettes, it maximizes Navantia’s participation by incorporating company products, such as the CATIZ combat system, the HERMESYS integrated communications system, the DORNA fire direction, the Integrated Platform Control System. and the MINERVA integrated bridge, together with other equipment developed by Navantia under license, such as MTU motors and RENK gearboxes.
This contract, in force since November 2018, strengthens the immediate future of Navantia and benefits all the company’s shipyards and its subcontractors, especially in the Bay of Cádiz.
It represents a global workload of around seven million hours that, translated into employment, will reach the figure of 6,000 annually for the next 5 years. Of these, more than 1,100 will be direct employees, more than 1,800 employees of the Auxiliary Industry of Navantia and more than 3,000 indirect employees generated by subcontractors. More than 100 other companies collaborate in the programme.
The contract includes, in addition to construction, five years of Life Cycle Support, from the delivery of the first ship, with the option of another five additional years.
It also includes the provision of various services, such as integrated logistics support, operational and maintenance training, provision of Training and Training Centers for the Combat System and Platform Control System, the aforementioned Life Cycle Support, and ships maintenance systems for the Jeddah Naval Base.