During DEFEA 2023 in Athens, Naval News met with Dario Deste, Fincantieri’s General Manager Naval Vessels Division, to learn more about Fincantieri’s FCx30 proposal for the Hellenic Navy corvette program. The Italian shipbuilder competes with France’s Naval Group.
Mr. Deste confirmed that Fincantieri and ONEX Elefsis Shipyards are in negotiations with the Greek government for 3+1 FCx30 corvettes which will be built in Italy (for the first-in-class ship) and Greece (for the following three). This is the design that has been selected by the Qatari Emiri Navy as Al Zubarah-class (known also as Doha-class); three of the four vessels in the class are already in active service since 2021. The version being proposed to the Hellenic Navy would feature an advanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) suite with variable depth sonar (VDS) and hull mounted sonar (HMS).
Deste told Naval News during DEFEA 2023 that:
“This corvette can be classified as a frigate thanks to its equipment and displacement which exceeds the 3,200 tons at full load.
It absolutely is a state-of-the-art and well-proven design with the most advanced technology currently available on the market, designed on the same concept and with the same aim we had for the FREMM frigate, the best frigate on the market today, thought to stand out for its survivability and redundancy. It is not a coincidence that the US Navy selected this vessel design for its new Constellation-class frigate program.“
The expected life of the ship is of about 30 to 35 years. “Electronics change rapidly, so you need to build ships that can be versatile enough to be used in an efficient way during its life-cycle. That is why we build ships that are so desirable and most of all well-proven“, Deste added.
“Today in the balance of a ship you need some energy power for your equipment on board, but looking to tomorrow you might need more, because in future the new weapon systems will request more power. Summing up, the versatile way the ship is designed is of course a very important feature.“
“Greece asked for ASW capabilities that is why we offer our corvette with advanced hybrid propulsion, extremely well-proven used on most our ships, like the ones of the Italian Navy as well as others, which ensures an incredible silent performance. The FREMM is the most silent ship in class, and the FCx30 will be the same. You must not forget that submarines are a significant threat to a surface combatant. That is why it is absolutely necessary to operate in silence (low acoustic signature and low noise electrical drive) and vessels like FCx30 make life of submarines tougher.“
Deste said that “Our design has great performance in terms of speed, endurance, fighting capability, margins, survivability, and buoyancy.” Moreover “With our partners, Leonardo, MBDA and Elettronica, we are very flexible and we are ready always to meet customer’s desires in terms of operational and technical capabilities. The discussions with the Navy are ongoing and I think the Greek Navy likes our ship.“
Fincantieri’s building strategy
On May 9 Fincantieri with ONEX published a press release where they emphasize that the new corvette manufacturing line and their life-cycle support base will engage several Greek companies to the project, boosting the creation of an industrial and high-tech ecosystem around the Elefsis Shipyards and Western Attica region. The MoUs signed between Fincantieri and other industrial partners, with Greek companies set the basis for long-term business relationships and creation of a strategic hub in the naval and maritime sector in the East Mediterranean.
Deste said “We offer much more than just a ship. We are offering localization, something which is absolutely important for the country. Any country that today invests money in a program, aims to receive back to its taxpayers a portion of them through the transfer of technology and job creation.“
“Fincantieri implements this concept successfully with 18 shipyards in the world successfully, including in the United States. We are very flexible because we don’t have just one model of cooperation and investment but we have different models according to client’s desires, like acquiring local shipyards, cooperating with the local shipyards or entering into joint-ventures.“
“First of all, we have a very strong and well-proven building strategy of state-of-the-art ships. We have our partner ONEX in Greece and together with them we have established which investments must be carried out in the shipyards and we have a clear picture in mind of how we are going to proceed in Italy whilst building the first ship and how we are going to progress with the ships which will be built in Greece. A strong building strategy allows you to manage risks and Fincantieri has have done this in many countries, having acquired expertise and managing capacities in this field!“
Dario Deste added: “When you localize is not only about ships. You need to build the environment around the shipyards, meaning the supply chain.“
“It very important to create the ecosystem in the supply chain around the shipyard. This will allow being able to continue to build more ships for customers also in the future after the construction of the two corvettes locally. Our strategy ensures that the local industry will have an outlook for the future after this program.“
He emphasized that “The key is not just to build 3 ships for Greece but to create value out of them. “Our aim is to multiply the investment the Greek government might make in terms of know-how, jobs and economy. Investing in the local shipyard means creating economy and an economic system“.
“Due to our building strategy, with the first ship, we will have Greek engineers, technicians and blue collars ready after moving to Italy, in order to get familiar right away with the construction and integration of the systems. These workers will then move to Greece to transfer the knowhow they gained in Italy with a full on the job training, working shoulders to shoulders with the Italians becoming experienced, and acquiring know-how to build ships in Greece.“
The FCx30 HN corvette
Regarding the design, Deste describes with important details the equipment the ship will carry. He said that “To the Hellenic Navy we presented a well-proven configuration, + in order to discuss its requirements. The design is however flexible and can be adapted easily to the needs of the customer. The design offers great living space and great visibility to its crew. Qatar, for example, is extremely satisfied with this vessel. Note also that FCX30 will incorporate advanced stealth characteristics.“
“The 107-meter corvette will have a full ASW suite that will include HMS, VDS, DLS and torpedoes. We emphasize in the sonar suite which will be a very (very) strong one! It will have a similar performance to the one of a FREMM vessel.“
“The weapons will include VL CAMM-ER SAM, Exocet SSM, RAM CIWS, full EWS suite (including R-ECM as a plug-and-play option), OTO 76/62 with STRALES and DART ammunition (and Leonardo RCWS). Regarding the SAM and SSM, we are able to integrate any kind of missiles and to re-configure the sensor equipment of the ship accordingly. Everything on board will be fully integrated with the CMS (ATHENA).”
“The ship will have powerful electronic equipment consisting of KRONOS HP-MFR, of the same family of the one fitted on FREMM frigates. The EW suite will be full and advanced, and it will come from our partner ELT Roma. The DLS will be one from Leonardo assuring both AAW and ASW capabilities.“
Regarding the DLS, Naval News assumes that the configuration of DLS might be similarly to Al Zubarah-class with four Sylena Mk1 DLS and separate launchers for Leonardo C310 anti-torpedo decoys. These decoys are the same as the ones of the C303/S system (48+14 MTE 103B and 72+21JAM 102) that will equip the Type 214 and Type 209/1500 submarines of the Hellenic Navy (agreement signed between Leonardo and Greek GDDIA on April 207, 2022).
Deste described also the future capabilities of FCX30. He said that “There are important margins in the design. You can replace the engines with more powerful ones, you can install more weapons or heavier ones, and you can install new generation weapons such as high energy laser (HEL) or high-power microwave (HPM) systems. It will be a very powerful ship capable to operate in high-threat environments!“
Regarding its performance, Deste said that “it will exceed the 26kts with an excellent endurance. The ship will be able to accommodate an up to 12-tons helicopter (MH-60R in Greek case) with separate hangar for an UAS. There will be also space to carry a special-forces team which can operate with the helicopter or the RHIB carried on the ship.“
The decision for the 3+1 corvettes has been postponed several times by the Greek government. Naval News expects things to be moving again this Summer after the Parlimentary elections and when a new government is formed.
Source : Naval News