Navantia S.A. is a leading European military shipbuilder with more than 270 years experience in the defence industry.

During more recent years Navantia has designed and built ships for 20 navies and since the early 18th century more than a thousand ships have been built and commissioned in its yards. Its history starts as the naval arsenals of the Spanish Navy and as recorded in Wikipedia: The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) meant that the shipbuilding yards, workshops, foundries and dry docks in Ferrol, Cartagena and San Fernando were taken over by the Spanish Ministry for Industry and fully nationalised in 1945 under the name Empresa Nacional Bazán de Construcciones Navales Militares S.A. (Bazán), later renamed IZAR, and from January 2005, Navantia. Nowadays, the company is owned by SEPI (Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales - State Company for Industrial Shareholdings).

The Company uses US Navy standards for ship design and construction. Its familiarity with US design standards and processes is evidenced by building the 1052 class and FFGs and also its own US/NATO-oriented designs: the F-100 and F-310 frigates for Spain and Norway. Australia, which also built FFGs, can leverage the US and European industrial bases and achieve continuity and commonality across the AWD, LHD and future RAN requirements such as AOR, Future Submarine, and Future Frigate, in, for example, combat systems, weapons and sensors; and incidental material such as doors, hatches, cables and junction boxes.

In June 2007, the Prime Minister announced that Australia would purchase three Air Warfare Destroyers and two Amphibious Ships based on Navantia’s F-100 and Buque Projeccion Estrategica (BPE) designs, respectively. Although the hulls of the two LHDs, up to and including the flight decks, are being built by Navantia in Spain, as pointed out in a Defence Media Release in June 2007, there will be “a high degree of Australian fitout. Much of the combat and communications systems integration and installation – the ‘smart stuff’ – will be done by Australian industry, which will be able to make the most of project opportunities in the leading edge technologies – electronics, systems engineering and integration and design development”. In fact, construction of the superstructures and the majority of the fitout will be the responsibility of Melbourne-based BAE Systems, the Prime Contractor for the LHDs. L-3 Communications is the supplier of the communications systems for the LHDs.

This work includes all external and internal communication subsystems, Maritime Tactical WAN, IT Networks, CCTV, Data Links, Entertainment and Training sub-systems and the Broadcast & Alarm System. L-3 Communications utilises local technical and support capabilities by working with Australian equipment suppliers. Saab Systems is supplying the 9LV Combat Management System, and the ‘Sea Giraffe’ agile multi-beam (AMB) radar. Special features of the system will include helicopter control, watercraft control and close-in self-defence against military and asymmetric threats. The majority of the work will be performed in Adelaide and Melbourne. In the words of the Defence Media Release in June 2007:

“..for decades into the future Navy’s ships will be backed by world-class industry support from Australia’s naval engineering and electronics industries. This means that hundreds of smaller and medium enterprises can now look to the future with confidence. ... the Landing Helicopter Dock contract will lay the groundwork for Australian industry to provide full in-service support for the life of the ships. This will provide a steady and reliable source of demand on industry, that, over ship life, will amount to several times the value of the actual construction program”.

Although based on the Spanish Armada’s F-100s, the design of Australia’s three Air Warfare Destroyers has been significantly Australianised to take account of our unique operating environment and to enhance their supportability into the future. The Defence Export Unit has led two missions to Spain to facilitate interactions between Australian companies and the people responsible for Navantia’s Supply chain. These missions resulted in Australian companies, both SMEs and Australian subsidiaries of overseas companies, winning work.

Others made their own way to Spain to hold discussions with Navantia. For example, Sage Automation, an Adelaide-based company, has been selected by Navantia to participate in the building and support of the Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS) that are being installed in the RAN’s new ships. The AWD Alliance has selected a Tasmanian company, Taylor Bros, to manufacture and deliver a range of accommodation products for the three AWDs. Similarly, ITT–EDO Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems, Inc, teamed with Sydney-based Jenkins Engineering Defence Systems, and Adelaide-based Ultra Electronics Avalon Systems, is the preferred supplier for the electronic warfare system for the AWDs.

In May 2009, the Minister for Defence announced that Defence would seek offers from Navantia for the construction and delivery of LCM-1E landing craft under Phase 3 of JP 2048. Subsequently, Navantia responded to an RFT against three different industrial scenarios for the construction of 10 or 12 LHD Landing Craft:

• Construction Option 1: to build all of them at Navantia (in Spain)
• Construction Option 2: to build the first four units at Navantia (in Spain), and the
remainder in a local shipyard in Australia
• Construction Option 3: to build all of them in a local shipyard in Australia.
In order to respond to Options 2 and 3, Navantia visited six Australian shipbuilders in three States, and made some recommendations to the DMO. It is now up to the Commonwealth to decide on the preferred acquisition strategy for the Replacement Watercraft.

Navantia is fully committed to the AWD and LHD projects and is working very closely with the DMO and the other industrial partners involved in each project. Currently, Navantia has a Branch in Australia with its head office in Melbourne; and with two teams of specialists resident in Williamstown, Victoria, and Osborne, South Australia; as well as a commercial representative in Canberra.

Looking ahead, Navantia will ramp up its activities in Australia and it is also exploring different possibilities to establish partnership relations with Australian entities that have key capabilities that provide added value to Navantia’s products both in Australia and overseas.

The company looks forward to winning new business within the Commonwealth, and in any case is committed to through life support and enhancement of the AWDs, LHDs and Watercraft in Australia for the foreseeable future, at least the next 30 years. At the time of writing, the LHD and AWD projects are on schedule and form the basis for a very sound, ongoing relationship between Navantia and the Commonwealth; and a strong alliance between the RAN and the Spanish Armada.

For more information about Navantia in Australia, contact:

Gonzalo Mateo-Guerrero

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