Navantia has launched this Saturday the fifth corvette that is being built in the shipyards of Bahía de Cádiz for the Royal Navy of Saudi Arabia (RSNF), which bears the name of “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 Commerce, Xiana Méndez; the Secretary General of Industry and SMEs, Raül Blanco and the President of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez. Through video, 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, intervened. The launch 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 Qur’an, followed by the screening of several videos: about the city of Unayzah, which gives its name to the ship, about the Avante 2200 program and about the construction of this fifth corvette. The person in charge of welcoming has been the Business Director of Corvettes and Maritime Action Vessel, José Antonio Rodríguez Poch, who has thanked the workers for their commitment to the program and those who have finalized the preparations for the launch.

At the ceremony, the Commander of the Royal Saudi Navy stressed 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 has expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the infinite support given to the RNSF. He also had words of gratitude to 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 has addressed the crew that will take command of the first ship after its commissioning and has highlighted the great responsibility that has been assigned to them to set the standards for the new class of ships.

The president of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, has dedicated words of gratitude to the staff who have worked on the construction of a ship “with the best qualities and complying with the established deadlines, despite the multiple challenges”.

“Colleagues of Navantia and collaborating industry, I thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you, you have made it possible to celebrate the launch of this corvette. This act shows the result of the good work of our people. It is not always so easy to visualize in such a clear way the result of an effort, “he said.

“The protagonists of this act today are you and you”, said Ricardo Domínguez, who reiterated at the event his “total commitment to the future of this Shipyard and the industrial ecosystem of the Bay of Cadiz”.

In addition, he thanked the Spanish Navy, the Royal Saudi Navy and the Ministries of Defense of both countries for their continued support for the success of the program. “Spain and Saudi Arabia are united by strong and lasting ties and today, given that international collaboration is essential, strengthening a partnership that already exists 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 internationally recognized for its quality and technology, it will be the most reliable partner for future projects.

The Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, congratulated the staff who made possible the construction of the five corvettes: “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 Defense industry, which you represent so perfectly”. “This is also a spain brand,” he remarked.

“We are very proud of this program and 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 supervise the execution of this innovative naval program”.

“So far, all areas of this important and transcendental naval program 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 program for their effort to minimize the impact of the pandemic on execution.

For his part, the CEO of SAMI has 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 program has contributed, 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 program, which was attended by 21 Saudi engineers.”

“The successful completion of the project represents a qualitative leap in SAMI’s efforts to enhance Saudi Arabia’s capabilities in maritime technology systems and strengthen the country’s defense ecosystem.”

The ceremony concluded when Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily cut the ribbon, so that the corvette “Unayzah”, after receiving the impact of the bottle with water from Mecca, has slid through the stands to touch water for the first time. Work on the corvette will continue in the water until its delivery in Spain, scheduled for August 2023. The vessel will be completed in Saudi Arabia and will be delivered in February 2024.

During his visit, Commander Al-Ghofaily visited the San Fernando shipyard and the Navantia Training Centre (NTC), the center equipped with state-of-the-art technology where sailors and corvette maintainers are receiving training. In addition, he has known the Land Based Training Site (LBTS) and simulators at Navantia Sistemas.

THE AVANTE 2200 PROGRAMME

The corvette “Unayzah” is the fifth in the series that makes up the Avante 2200 program. It has a length of 104 meters, a beam of 14 and will be able to transport a total of 102 people between crew and passenger.

The design of the corvettes is state-of-the-art, while maximizing Navantia’s participation by incorporating its own products, such as the CATIZ combat system, the HERMESYS integrated communications system, the DORNA firing direction, the Integrated Platform Control System and the MINERVA integrated bridge, along with other equipment developed by Navantia under license, such as MTU motors, 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 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 Navantia Auxiliary Industry and more than 3,000 indirect employees generated by other suppliers. More than 100 auxiliary companies collaborate in the program.

The contract includes, in addition to construction, Life Cycle Support for five years, from the delivery of the first vessel, with an option for an additional five 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 of the ships, life cycle support, mentioned above, and systems for the maintenance of ships at the Jeddah Naval Base.