Today Navantia launched the fifth corvette being built for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF), named ‘Unayzah’ as a tribute to the city located north of the capital of Saudi Arabia.

The event was attended by the Commander of the RSNF, Vice-Admiral Fahad Bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily; the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade, Xiana Méndez; and the Secretary-General for Industry and SMEs and the Chairman of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez. It also included video interventions by the Admiral Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy, Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave, and the CEO of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI), Walid Abukhaled.

The ceremony began with a reading from the Holy Quran, followed by videos about the city of Unayzah, the Avante 2200 programme and the building of this corvette. Both the national anthems of Saudi Arabia and Spain were played. The event also included welcoming remarks from the business director of corvettes and maritime action vessel, José Antonio Rodríguez Poch.

Vice-Admiral Al-Ghofaily pointed out that the successful launching of all the corvettes in such a short and challenging delivery schedule is a remarkable accomplishment and a clear indication of Navantia’s commitment to fulfil every milestone of the project with high standards of quality.

His Excellency expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their infinite support given to the RSNF. He also thanked Navantia’s Chairman and the Spanish Navy Chief of Staff for the valuable contribution of the Spanish Navy towards the success of the project.

Vice-Admiral Al-Ghofaily addressed the RSNF crew who will take command of the first ship after her commissioning in four months and highlighted the big responsibility assigned to them to set the standards for the new class of ships.

Admiral Martorell Lacave underlined his personal commitment, and that of the Spanish Navy, with the project and expressed his appreciation ‘for the confidence that the Royal Saudi Navy has placed in the Spanish Navy to supervise the execution of this ground-breaking naval programme’.

“So far, all the areas of this important and far-reaching naval programme have been successful, including the necessary operational training, where the Spanish Navy has been particularly involved, the instruction of the future crews and the assessment of the modern equipment and complex systems”, he added. Admiral Martorell Lacave also thanked all the personnel involved in the programme for their efforts to minimise the impact of the pandemic.

Méndez highlighted the importance of the programme, which includes not only shipbuilding and comprehensive life cycle support but also the training of crews and maintainers and transfer of technology.

“We are very proud of this programme and the five corvettes we have built here because they are a shining example of Spain’s strong technologic capacities and the competitiveness of Spanish Defence industry”, stated the Secretary of State.

Dominguez highlighted that this programme ‘has marked a historic milestone for Navantia and for the development of the cooperation between the shipbuilding industries, defence organisations and Navies of both countries’.

“Spain and Saudi Arabia have strong long-lasting links and nowadays, when international cooperation is paramount, we have to enhance our existing partnerships as the best course to face the present and future”, said Dominguez. “We are confident that being a leader in the sector and recognised internationally for our quality and technology, Navantia will be the most reliable partner for future upcoming projects.”

He also expressed Navantia’s gratefulness for the continued support of the RSNF and the Ministry of Defence, and to the Spanish Ministry of Defence and the Spanish Navy.

Dominguez also acknowledged Navantia’s and local industry workers commitment, which has made possible the launching of the corvette in time despite the challenges faced and showed gratitude both to SAMI and the programme teams in Spain and Saudi Arabia for their hard work, expertise and teamwork spirit in this project.

Abukhaled expressed his pride in the successes achieved by the company through its strategic partnerships with RSNF and Navantia. These milestones have culminated in His Majesty’s Ship ‘Unayzah’, the last of five Avante 2200 corvettes, as part of the Al-Sarawat project. “We are proud of the countless achievements that this programme has contributed to, such as the establishment of SAMINavantia, the launch of HAZEM – the first 100% Saudi naval Combat Management System that was developed through the transfer of technology from Navantia, and the launch of the on-the-job training programme, which saw the participation of 21 Saudi male and female engineers.”

“The successful completion of the project represents a quantum leap in SAMI’s endeavours to enhance Saudi Arabia’s capabilities in maritime technology systems and strengthen the defence ecosystem of the country. This underscores our commitment to supporting the Kingdom’s efforts to localise more than 50% of its military spending in line with Saudi Vision 2030. On this special occasion, we extend our gratitude to our wise leadership, which spares no effort in supporting this growing sector. We also thank the RSNF command for their continuous assistance and firm trust in SAMI”, he added.

In the event, Vice-Admiral Al-Ghofaily cut the ribbon and the corvette, after receiving the impact of the bottle with water from the Holy City of Mecca, began to slide down until she touched water for the first time. The construction will continue until the delivery in Spain to the RSNF in the month of August 2023. The works will be completed in Saudi Arabia and the vessel will be delivered there in February 2024.

During his visit to San Fernando, Vice-Admiral Al-Ghofaily visited the Navantia Training Centre (NTC), where the crew and maintainers of the corvettes are receiving training, and the 18th century set of buildings rehabilitated by Navantia that currently host the Saudi crews. The Saudi delegation also visited the Land-Based Training Site (LBTS) and simulators in Navantia Sistemas.