Navantia delivered to the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) the first of five Avante 2200 class corvettes built in its shipyards in the Bay of Cadiz, in a ceremony held at the facilities of the Naval Base of La Carraca, in San Fernando (Cádiz). The delivery ceremony of the vessel 546, named HMS AL-JUBAIL, was attended by the Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Force, Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily; the Spanish the Admiral Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy (AJEMA), Antonio Martorell Lacave; the CEO of SAMI, Walid Abukhaled; and the Chairman of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, as well as the Secretary of State for Trade, Xiana Méndez, and the Secretary General for Industry and SMEs, Raül Blanco.
The event was carried out in accordance with the military protocol. The Joint Inspection Commission (RSNF and Navantia) went on board the corvette to carry out the mandatory inspection. At the end of the inspection, the ship’s flag was raised, after which the RSNF transferred command of the corvette to the Commanding Officer of HMS AL JUBAIL. Finally, the Chairman of Navantia presented to Vice Admiral Al-Ghofaily with the ship’s bell as an institutional gift. The corvette AL-JUBAIL has been delivered to the Royal Saudi Naval Forces in approximately three years since the cutting of its first steel plate (January 2019) and after having successfully passed the sea trials carried out in the waters of the Bay of Cadiz during the last few months. These tests have verified the proper functioning of both the platform and the different systems, with the aim of demonstrating compliance with the requirements specified in the ship’s contract.
The CEO of SAMI highlighted that “this is a moment of proud achievement for the Saudi defense industry and SAMI and demonstrates our success in collaboration with leading global OEMs to serve Saudi Arabia’s armed forces. We are confident that HMS Al Jubail will be a key addition to the Kingdom’s defense capability”. “On behalf of SAMI, I express our sincere thanks to the Kingdom’s wise leadership for constantly guiding and supporting us. We also extend a special thanks to the Royal Saudi Naval Forces for their trust in us. SAMINavantia continues to support our efforts to build a sustainable defense sector in the Kingdom, which includes developing the first Saudi Naval Combat System – HAZEM, facilitating defense localization through the transfer of technology, and nurturing national talent through on-the-job training.”
Navantia’s Chairman, Ricardo Domínguez, stated his pride for “the great task carried out by the shipyard, the cooperation received from all the contractors and suppliers and the collaboration of the officers devoted to the program both in San Fernando and in Saudi Arabia”. “I have no doubt that this ship is going to be an international benchmark in her class and a clear example of a cutting edge product. I want to highlight our commitment to transfer our most advanced technology to the Kongdom of Saudi Arabia”, declared Mr Dominguez.
In the commissioning ceremony, Vice-Admiral Al-Ghofaily stated that this ambitious programs underline the strong and lasting strategic relations between the Governments of both Kingdoms and attributed a great credit to Navantia commitment to deliver such a state-of-the-art corvette with distinctive quality on schedule and. He also recognized the merits and commitment of all the people involved, as well as those of the Spanish Navy. HMS Al Jubail is the most technologically advanced surface combatant to join the RSNF, he said. Vice-Admiral Al Ghofaily expressed his utmost gratitude and appreciation to His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense for the great attention and unlimited support that they always give to the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.
From the Spanish Government, the Secretary of State for Trade expressed support to the naval industry and highlighted that the Prime Minister has announced that Spain will meet its goal of allocating 2% of GDP to defence, thus contributing to European and Atlantic security, while at the same time strengthening our country’s security. The Secretary General for Industry and SMEs conveyed in his speech the importance of strengthening the Spanish naval and defence industry in an uncertain global environment, and of working in solid alliances with allied countries as shown by the delivery of the corvette.
The corvette AL-JUBAIL has a length of 104 metres, a beam of 14 metres and is capable of carrying a total of 102 crew and passengers. The contract for the construction of five corvettes came into force in November 2018 and, since the launching of this first unit in July 2020, Navantia has already launched the five units with a cadence of four months between each of them, which means achieving this milestone in a record time of three years. The corvettes are based on the AVANTE 2200 design, adapted to the requirements of Saudi Arabia, offering advanced performance, excellent performance at sea, high survivability and ability to operate in extreme temperatures such as in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. At the same time, around 500 crew members of these corvettes will complete the training process at the Navantia Training Centre (NTC) in San Fernando.
In addition to the corvettes contract, Navantia agreed with SAMI (Saudi Arabian Military Industries) the creation of the joint venture SAMINavantia in Saudi Arabia. This alliance benefits NAVANTIA and SAMI, and allows boosting defence programmes in the Kingdom, reinforcing its economy. This joint venture is an exceptional opportunity for Navantia to position its integrated systems and technologically advanced solutions in the Arab market and its area of influence, perfectly aligned with the company’s internationalisation strategy. The design of the corvettes is state-of-the-art, incorporating SAMINavantia participation and joint developed products , such as the HAZEM combat system, HERMESYS integrated communications system, DORNA fire control system, the Integrated Platform Control System (IPMS) and the MINERVA integrated bridge, together with other equipment developed by Navantia under licence, such as the MTU engines and the RENK gearboxes. The programme, the last ship of which is due for delivery in 2024, includes in addition to construction, Life Cycle Support for five years from delivery of the first ship, with an option for a further five years.