July 22, 2020, Navantia successfully carried out at 17:22 hours the launching of AL-JUBAIL, the first of five corvettes built for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF). The ceremony was held in slipway number 2 at the San Fernando shipyard, and was chaired by the Commander of RSNF, H. E. Vice Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily; by the Chairwoman of Navantia, Susana de Sarriá; by the Acting CEO of SAMI, Eng. Walid Abukhaled; and by the Admiral of Logistics Support Bay of Cadiz of Spanish Navy, Vice Admiral Ricardo A. Hernández López (Alardiz).
The ceremony started with a Quran recitation made by RSNF officer. Then a video about the Al-Jubail city (which the vessel has been named after) was played, and a time-lapse video was shown in which several months of construction have been summarized and can be seen in Navantia’s website. The national anthems of the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Spain were played thereupon.
The Commander of RSNF highlighted the importance of ALSARAWAT Project, contracted to Navantia, as one of the largest capability-acquisition programs for the RSNF which reflects a strong strategic relation between Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kingdom of Spain and enlarges the cooperation between the RSNF and Spanish Navy in shipbuilding, education and training. The Commander of RSNF also indicated that the success of this project is a key factor for ambitious future projects and an enduring partnership.
He also stated that this step comes within the framework of SAMI’s strategy to support the development of the military industries in the Kingdom, as well as enhancing its strategic independence and military readiness.
The Chairwoman of Navantia highlighted Navantia’s commitment to the RSNF to replicate the successful model implemented throughout many years with the Spanish Navy, and during recent years with other navies such as the Royal Australian Navy, and provide a high capability level both to the RNSF and to the military industries sector of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the corvette programme and also for future projects.
Next, the ship’s Sponsor, the Commander of RSNF, ordered Capt. Abdullah Alshehri, director of RSNF PMO ALSARAWAT to cut the ribbon on his behalf, and the corvette AL-JUBAIL slid down the slipway and touched the water for the first time.
The AL-JUBAIL has a length of 104 metres/341 feet, a beam of 14 metres/46 feet and will be able to accommodate 102 people (crew and additional personnel). It will reach a maximum speed of 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h and, among other aspects, it has the capacity to carry 21 days’ supplies on board.
The corvettes are the latest generation of successful Navantia-designed combatants, and incorporate state-of-the-art Navantia products, such as the CATIZ Combat System, DORNA Gun Fire Control System, NAVCOMS/HERMESYS Integrated External and Internal Communications System, MINERVA Integrated Navigation and Bridge System, or COMPLEX-SIMPLEX Integrated Platform Management Platform together with equipment manufactured by Navantia under license such as the Leonardo SUPER RAPID 76-mm main gun, Rheinmetall Air Defence MILLENNIUM 35-mm close-in weapon system, MTU propulsion engines and diesel generators, and RENK gearboxes.
Since the first steel cutting was made, in January 2019, all the workshops of Navantia, in San Fernando and also in Puerto Real, have been working tirelessly. AL-JUBAIL, hull number 828, has been successfully built despite the slowdown in activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, the safety protocols for the launching ceremony required all attendees to have their temperature taken, wear a face mask and maintain the required safety distance.
For the follow-on sister ships, the objective is to recover time and meet the initial milestones, so that the second corvette can be launched in November 2020. After the launching ceremony, Capt. Abdullah Alshehri, director of RSNF PMO ALSARAWAT, witnessed the progress in the construction of ship 830 ALDIRIYAH in slipway number 3.
The corvette program, which entered into force in November 2018, strengthens the immediate future of Navantia and benefits all the company’s shipyards and its auxiliary industry, especially the entire Bay of Cádiz.
Specifically, it will suppose a global workload of around seven million hours that, translated into employment, will reach the figure of 6,000 jobs annually during the next 5 years. From these, more than 1,100 will be direct employees, more than 1,800 employees of the auxiliary industry Navantia and more than 3,000 indirect employees generated by other suppliers. There will be more than 100 auxiliary companies that collaborate in it.
The program, whose last ship should be delivered in 2024, includes, in addition to construction, Life Cycle Support for five years, from the delivery of the first ship, with the option of another five additional years.
On the other hand, the contract also includes the supply of various services such as integrated logistical support, operational and maintenance training, supply of training and training Centers for the Combat System and Platform Control System for ships, Support to the Life Cycle, previously mentioned, and the systems for the maintenance of ships in the RNSF Jeddah Naval Base.