French shipbuilder Naval Group on Thursday announced it is starting work on the Argentine Navy offshore patrol vessels (OPV), thereby officially confirming the four-ship contract with the South American country. Naval Group’s €318 million contract with Argentina for the delivery of four offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) has come into force. Altogether, the four ships will cost 319.03 million euros, that Argentina will pay thanks to a financing package put together by French banks Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Natixis, together with Spain’s Banco Santander. Contracts generally come into force when the seller receives a down payment.
Signed during December’s G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, the contract covers the refit and delivery of L’Adroit, an innovative OPV built as a private venture by Naval Group and leased by the French Navy to explore and validate its design concept. Her delivery to Argentina is planned for 2019, after a general refit and specific modifications requested by the Argentine Navy. Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie was quoted as saying: “The technical offer has been accepted, and now we discuss the financial arrangements for these vessels. The final price, which was decided after the Naval Group’s trip in Argentina, was much closer to that of other shipyards”.
The other three OPVs Gowind OPV-87 design will be constructed in France. The shipbuilder did not provide a timeline for the ship deliveries. OPV87 vessels built for Argentina will measure 87 meters in length, displace 1,650 tons, and have a flight deck capable of accommodating a 10-ton helicopter. They will have increased autonomy due to an improved fresh water production capacity on board. The three OPVs built in France will be ice-strengthened, to allow navigation in cold waters in the southern seas. All units will be equipped with a tele-operated 30mm cannon. The OPVs can stay at sea for more than three weeks, reach a speed of 20 knots and operate a helicopter. Operated by a crew of 40 people, they can also accommodate thirty passengers.
Engaged in several military missions as well as in fishery policing and maritime security, notably the Atalante operation to combat piracy, L’Adroit has already demonstrated its efficiency and the significance of Naval Group’s innovations developed for the benefit of navies, commandos and coastguards.The Argentine Navy offshore patrol vessels will benefit from the innovations proposed by Naval Group and proven by the French Navy. This range of vessels also benefits from Naval Group’s expertise in information systems and command, allowing for greater maritime expanse surveillance capabilities and the automatic detection of suspicious behaviour. L’Adroit is fitted with the Polaris® mission system specifically developed by Naval Group for state action at sea missions, and approved by the French Navy.