The Abu-Dhabi based shipbuilding joint venture Maestral was formally launched by EDGE Group and Fincantieri on 20 May 2024, with the announcement of the order by the UAE Coast Guard for ten 51 metre (m) long offshore patrol vessels (OPV), valued at more than €400m ($434.6m).

The ten vessels to be manufactured for the UAE Coast Guard will be P51MR class 51m OPVs, based on the Saettia class, and are due to be built at sites in the UAE and Italy.

The Italian Coast Guard saw five Saettia-class vessels built for them by Fincantieri in the early-to-mid-2000s, with the ships basic design offering a seven-day endurance and ability to accommodate 29-person crew.

Announced in February 2024, the joint venture sees EDGE Group hold a 51% majority and the remainder held by Fincantieri and will have “prime rights to non-Nato orders” as well as “a number of strategic orders placed by selected Nato countries”, according to Fincantieri.

Faisal al Bannai, Chairman of EDGE Group, said the joint venture “opens up opportunities” for Maestral to promote a range of maritime security solution to navies and coast guards globally.

How does Maestral fit with EDGE’s existing ADSB?

The Maestral joint venture will provide EDGE Group with a controlling interest in a business that has a commercial pipeline estimated at €30bn, and potentially taps into “strategic orders” placed by select Nato countries.

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This latter point could prove key, as EDGE’s existing Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding (ADSB) entity is already active on the UAE and international stage, with ADSB beginning construction in January 2023 on Falaj 3-class fast patrol vessels for the UAE Navy and is also building 71m long corvettes for Angola.

How the workshare balance will be maintained remains to be seen, although it is likely the picture will become clearer as future contracts are awarded. The prospect of securing Nato-level naval shipbuilding or sustainment works could be a key factor in Maestral’s creation.