The president of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, acknowledged the work of the personnel and the teams and stressed that the company, as "a leader in the sector internationally recognised for its quality and technology, will be the most reliable partner for future projects".
Navantia has launched this Saturday the fifth corvette that is being built in the shipyards of Bahía de Cádiz for the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy (RSNF), which bears the name "Unayzah", in homage to this city located north of the capital of the country.
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 Trade, Xiana Méndez; the Secretary General for Industry and SMEs, Raúl Blanco, and the President of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez. The Admiral Chief of Staff of the Navy (AJEMA), Admiral General Antonio Martorell Lacave, and the CEO of SAMI (Saudi Arabia Military Industries), Walid Abukhaled, took part via video. The launching ceremony took place under health and safety measures and was attended by Navantia workers and their families.
The event began with a reading from the Koran, followed by the projection of several videos: about the city of Unayzah, which gives its name to the ship, about the Avante 2200 programme and about the construction of this fifth corvette. José Antonio Rodríguez Poch, Director of Corvettes and Maritime Action Vessel Business, welcomed the guests and thanked the workers for their commitment to the programme and those who have made the final preparations for the launching.
At the ceremony, the commander of the Royal Saudi Navy emphasised that the launching of the five corvettes, with such a short and demanding schedule, was a remarkable achievement and a clear demonstration of Navantia's commitment to meeting 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 infinite support given to the RNSF. He also thanked the President of Navantia and the Chief of Staff of the Navy for the valuable contribution of the Spanish Navy to the success of the project. In addition, he addressed the crew that will take command of the first ship after its commissioning and highlighted the great responsibility they have been assigned to set the standards for the new class of ships.
The president of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, has dedicated words of thanks to the personnel who have worked on the construction of a ship "with the best qualities and meeting the established deadlines, despite the many challenges".
"Navantia colleagues and collaborating industry, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, you have made it possible to celebrate the launching of this corvette. This event shows the result of the good work of our people. It is not always so easy to visualise so clearly the result of an effort", he pointed out.
"The protagonists of today's event are you", said Ricardo Domínguez, who reiterated his "total commitment to the future of this shipyard and the industrial ecosystem of the Bay of Cadiz".
He also thanked the Spanish Navy, the Royal Saudi Navy and the Ministries of Defence 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 existing partnership is the best way to face the present and the future", said the president of Navantia, adding that the company, as "a leader in the sector recognised internationally for its quality and technology, will be the most reliable partner for future projects".
The Secretary of State for Trade, 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 Spain's strong technological capabilities and the competitiveness of the Spanish defence industry, which you represent so perfectly". "This is also Spain's brand," he remarked.
"We are very proud of this programme and of the five corvettes we have built here because they are a shining example of Spain's solid technological capacity," said the Secretary of State.
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 oversee 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 particularly involved, the training of future crews and the evaluation of the modern equipment and complex systems," he said. Admiral Martorell Lacave also thanked all the personnel involved in the programme for their efforts to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the execution.
For his part, SAMI's CEO expressed his pride in the successes achieved by the company through its strategic alliances with RSNF and Navantia. These milestones have culminated in the ship "Unayzah", the last of the five Avante 2200 corvettes. "We are proud of the countless achievements to which this programme has contributed, such as the establishment of SAMINavantia, the launch of HAZEM, the first 100% Saudi naval combat management system to be developed through technology transfer, and the launch of the on-the-job training programme, which involved 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 with Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah al-Ghofaily cutting the ribbon, whereupon the corvette "Unayzah", after receiving the impact of the water bottle from Mecca, slid down the slipway to touch water for the first time. Work on the corvette will continue in the water until its delivery to Spain, scheduled for August 2023. The ship will be completed in Saudi Arabia and delivered in February 2024.
During his visit, Commander Al-Ghofaily visited the San Fernando Shipyard and the Navantia Training Centre (NTC), the centre equipped with the latest technology where the sailors and maintainers of the corvettes are receiving training. He also visited the Land Based Training Site (LBTS) and the simulators at Navantia Sistemas.
The corvette "Unayzah" is the fifth in the Avante 2200 programme. It has a length of 104 metres, a beam of 14 metres and will be capable of carrying a total of 102 crew and passengers.
The design of the corvettes is state-of-the-art, maximising Navantia's participation through the incorporation of its own products, such as the CATIZ combat system, the HERMESYS integrated communications system, the DORNA fire control system, the Integrated Platform Control System and the MINERVA integrated bridge, together with other equipment developed by Navantia under licence, such as the MTU engines and the RENK gearboxes.
This contract, in force since November 2018, strengthens Navantia's immediate future and benefits all the company's shipyards and its auxiliary industry, especially the entire Bay of Cadiz.
It represents an overall workload of around seven million hours which, translated into employment, will reach the figure of 6,000 annually over the next five years. Of these, more than 1,100 will be direct employees, more than 1,800 employees from Navantia's Auxiliary Industry and more than 3,000 indirect employees generated by other suppliers. More than 100 auxiliary companies are collaborating in the programme.
The contract includes, in addition to the construction, Life Cycle Support for five years from the delivery of the first vessel, with an option for a further five years.
It also includes the supply of various services, such as integrated logistical support, operational and maintenance training, the supply of Training and Training Centres for the Combat System and Platform Control System of the ships, the aforementioned Life Cycle Support, and the systems for the maintenance of the ships at the Jeddah Naval Base.