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Interview

Navantia - Ambitious Projects Where Experience Matters

Sofia HONRUBIA Commercial and Business Development Vice President Navantia talks with Defence Turkey Magazine about the company’s twenty-year presence in Turkey. Navantia confirmed its commitment by opening Navantia Turkey in 2013. In addition to the partnership with SEDEF for the construction of Turkish LHD ships and the partnership with AYESAŞ for the supply of the IPMS, Navantia has also been working with DELTAMARINE, an engineering company involved in ship design. With these partnerships Turkey’s local contribution to the LHD ships has increased, also opening up global export opportunities through product quality improvement and innovation

Issue 94

Defence Turkey: How would you best describe the state-owned Spanish naval shipbuilder Navantia today? Even though its main line of activity is in the naval field, Navantia also designs and manufactures systems for the Army and the Air Force. Could you please provide some key facts about the company for our readers? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: Navantia is a state-owned naval shipbuilding company that provides the industrial and technological response to the Spanish Government to build the essential naval capabilities for National Defence and Security. The company has their own technological capacity to deliver solutions end to end in the shipbuilding and also in the Systems domain, providing sovereignty to the Ministry of Defence. 

Navantia has an international projection offering global solutions to clients and partners around the world, exporting 10,000 million euros in the last 10 years, internationally reinforcing the Spanish Brand and boosting Spanish exports and direct foreign investment. Its presence stands out in countries such as Australia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, United States, Turkey and India. 

It is a technology company focused on innovation, investing a significant amount in R&D projects, which makes it have its own technological capacity which is the basis for their products and services which are efficient, competitive and exportable. Navantia is involved in a digital transformation that involves the products, services, processes and people, that is the most important challenge of the company.

In addition, Navantia generates a great effect tractor of economic growth and job creation in the countries where it operates, providing jobs of high quality and technological sophistication. 

Our experience as a main contractor and systems integrator is also a clear advantage that we are providing for the land forces and to other defence institutions.

The close relationship with the Spanish Navy and the Ministry of Defence has allowed us to build excellent products like the F100 frigate or the Juan Carlos I LHD, for example, products that had a great impact on the international market. Now, we aim to introduce new ones like the F110, the S80 submarine or the light frigates like the Alfa class. 

Our experience has demonstrated that we are also good as a transfer of tecnhology partner, having proven our value in very different industrial scenarios. 

Defence Turkey: How would you describe the current position of Navantia, in both technological and commercial terms, in the global maritime sector? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: The intensification of international competition, new technologies, the demand for new products and services and new business models are inevitably leading shipyards to focus more and more now and in the future to improve competitiveness with digitization of facilities, and the sophistication and technological differentiation of products and processes. 

In order to be competitive in that market , Navantia is currently implementing a Strategic Plan that led the company to maintain its excellent position in the international market. 

New programs that are already in place like the new frigate for the Spanish Navy, F-110, and other international programs, will boost the transformation. The new model of industry 4.0 and its associated technology, a great part which is already at our disposal, provides the ability to simulate in the field in real time virtual design, product, and processes of manufacturing and maintenance, and then transfer and continuously compare the virtual product with the real world.  Looking through this connected capability, we progress towards the concept of intelligent manufacturing.

Navantia is making a great effort in offering the highest technology to improve its position as a key provider in the global maritime sector. 

Defence Turkey: How much time, effort and money has Navantia allocated for R&D annually? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: For the recent years, Navantia has spent more than 10% annually on R&D of the total income of the company. 

In the present context of competitivity, to remain in a good position implies to spend effort in R&D. The main focus of our R&D projects is the use of emerging digital technologies to provide solutions to new market demands both in capabilities and business models. We also work to improve process efficiency through digital transformation, this is what we have named “the Shipyard 4.0.” 

We are currently developing projects within the 13 Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) that Navantia is focusing on. As an example, Navantia is implementing projects related with new technologies and digital transformation such as Drones, no-cable vessel and the Digital Twin for the last generation of frigates for the Spanish Navy. 

Defence Turkey: Can you provide an analysis of 2018 from Navantia’s point of view and could you elaborate on your targets for 2019?

Sofia HONRUBIA: 2018 was an extraordinary year for us. First of all, a very ambitious Strategic Plan for the company has been initiated that will allow the company to be ready for the future. 

Furthermore, very important contracts were signed, 5 corvettes for the Saudi Navy, the most important export contract for Navantia, and the contract for 5 frigates F110 for the Spanish Navy, the most advanced frigate class ever built. The program for the new submarine S80 for the Spanish Navy has successfully passed important milestones and soon will be ready for delivery .The current programs that we are carrying out in Turkey, Australia and India are also going on track.

Navantia continues to focus on strategic markets in Australia, Saudia Arabia and USA. Turkey is also a priority.

Some important tenders are now in place, such as the FFGX frigates program in the United States and in the FSS program for a supply ship for the Royal Navy.

Defence Turkey: The naval shipbuilding market is very cyclical; global economic crisis usually punishes all the naval industry players, big and small, with great cuts on defence expenditure over the world, reaching their domestic and export clients, with naval programs sliding to the right and even being cancelled. As a world class naval industry player Navantia also underwent a rough patch at that time. How did you manage to overcome that challenge?

Sofia HONRUBIA: In 300 years of history, the company has proven its strength several times. At this moment Navantia has undertaken a Startegic Plan to get through this situation. The plan, supported by the Spanish Government and the Unions has a triple target.  First, to be focused in the market needs to secure more contracts. Navantia will continue its international strategy to better assess client needs. Secondly, Navantia is boosting Digital Transformation, increased significantly its effort in R&D to improve productivity and to be able to better deliver on time and budget. The third target that has just started is focused on people. The staff of the company should be skilled according to the new needs derived from transformation.

Defence Turkey: Navantia recently secured a number of contracts that have improved the company’s situation significantly, such as the contract for the construction of five corvettes based on the AVANTE 2200 model for the Government of Saudi Arabia and a contract signed with the Spanish Ministry of Defence for the construction of five F-110 multi-mission frigates. Can you briefly introduce our readers to the major programs, local and international, that are keeping Navantia busy these days? What key geographical markets are your next targets?

Sofia HONRUBIA: Our international commercial strategy includes Europe, America, South America, Middle East, Asia and North of Africa. We have many solutions that suit programs of navies in these regions. Our portfolio incorporates new products after our recent contracts, like the F110 frigate, S80 submarine or the corvette Alfa 4000, but ships based on the F100, LPD and AOR are still demanded. 

The F110 is the most modern frigate in the world. It involves a high technological development. This is a dramatical change with in the conception of a ship, because it will have a digital twin. This will allow the client to anticipate any operations of upgrading, maintenance or repair. The F110 contract was signed in February 2019 and it represents the new reference in the market. From this perspective we believe Navantia´s F110 will be a good competitor in major programs around the world.

The S80 was secured also in December 2018 and this means that in 2022 there will be a new advanced conventional submarine fully made in Spain. Navantia will become one of the few shipyards in the world able to design and build submarines. This product opens new opportunities for exports.

The contract with KSA for five corvettes introducing Catiz Navantia´s combat management system and including training and Through Life Support together with the joint venture with SAMI, named Saudi Navantia Naval Industries, gives Navantia a strategic position in the Middle East market for corvettes based on the KSA model and also for other ships. KSA remains a focus of interest for the short and middle term.

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on the status of the Saudi Arabia’s AVANTE 2200 Corvette Program? Did the contract become effective and has the construction of the first corvette started? According to the original schedule, the program should have started at the end of 2018 and the last ship would be commissioned in 2022.

Sofia HONRUBIA: On July 2018, Navantia signed a contract with the Government of Saudi Arabia for the construction of five corvettes. The program started at the end of 2018, and the keel laying for the first vessel will be celebrated in September at Navantia’s Shipyard in San Fernando, Bay of Cadiz. The last ship will be commissioned in 2022. In addition, NAVANTIA will be responsible for the Life Cycle Support.

Besides the contract of corvettes, Navantia has already incorporated a Joint Venture with SAMI, SAMI Navantia Naval Industries with the objective to create local capabilities in the Naval Systems domain that will create high quality jobs in Saudi Arabia and will allow them to provide their products in country and on the export market. 

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on the current status of the much delayed (due to weight and balance problems) AIP powered S-80 Plus (Isaac Peral Class) Submarine Program, covering the construction of 4 submarines for the Spanish Navy? Construction of the submarines was suspended in early 2013, when it was discovered that the first submarine in the series, the Isaac Peral, was 75 to 100 tons too heavy relative to its length. How did you solve the weight and balance problem? According to reports the S-80’s per unit cost increased from the originally projected €439 Million to €978 ($1.14 Billion) and delivery has been delayed nearly a decade from 2013 to 2022. 

Sofia HONRUBIA: Currently, in the first submarine it’s planned to weld the last section junction at the end of the year. This junction will be carried out after the main platforms embarking and outfitting of the two fore sections (weapons and control room). The setting afloat will be performed during 2020 and the delivery is planned for 2022. The second submarine is in progress, working on the construction of the internal assemblies and the steel outfitting of supports and foundations.The third one is in the process of its lengthening. The program is on track, fully compliant with the new contractual milestones.

The weight issue was solved using a System Engineering approach which led the shipyard to increase the displacement of the submarine by increasing its length. A complete re-design of the submarine has been carried out taking profit of the lengthening of the submarine and the opportunities it led. The main issues related with possible obsolescence have also been catered to. An FMS cooperation agreement has been established between the Spanish Navy and the US Navy, in this frame, a Safety Certification Process has been developed for the program based on the US Navy Subsafe certification. Under the FMS case the Spanish Navy has the back-up of the US Navy/General Dynamics Electric Boat for Safety issues.

The figures shown are not totally correct because there are non-recurrent costs for the program that have to be considered and there are also some R+D costs running in parallel in the program. It’s true that the total cost of the program has been increased, Navantia has taken the opportunity to perform a whole review of the design and the quality of the project with the back-up of the US Navy/General Dynamics Electric Boat.

Defence Turkey: The S-80 plus Submarines will be equipped with the 300kW AIP system using bio-ethanol fuel cells and an Ethanol Reformer, that generates the required hydrogen from ethanol through a reformer. However, according to reports, the AIP system will not arrive in time for its installation in the first two submarines of the S-80 Plus series, but in the next two and the first two will receive AIP drives for their 2032 refit. Can we hear your comment on this issue?

Sofia HONRUBIA: The system will not be in time in the two first submarines, it has been decided to include the first AIP system in the third one. The first and second submarines will receive their systems in the first overhaul, planned for 2028 for the S-81.

Navantia has run AIP equipment for thousands of hours and in 2018 demonstrated technology integration through full power endurance tests (> 300 kW gross power) using prototypes (full scale, naval qualified equipment). This success in the full power production milestone enabled Navantia to move forward to the System Verification Review scheduled in July 2021, as critical risks to meet the S-80 Program deadline for system installation onboard the S-83 submarine were properly mitigated. Currently the AIP is accumulating ‘flight hours’

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on the status of the F-110 Frigate Program for the Spanish Navy? The Spanish MoD signed a €4,3 Billion contract with Navantia on 23 April 2019 for the construction of five F-110 Class Frigates. When do you plan to start construction on the first frigate? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: After the shipbuilding contract for the frigates, the Detail Engineering Phase (including functional and construction ship design) is running at Navantia Ferrol Shipyard and it is expected to start the Ship Construction Phase in December 2021.

 

The first frigate will be delivered at the end of the year 2026.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about the importance of this contract for Navantia and the technological advances that the F-110 design will incorporate compared to existing frigate designs? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: The F-110 frigates program is a strategic program. It is key for Navantia in the 21st century and it will mean continuing with the successful story of the F-100 program, both nationally and internationally. This program is one of the fundamental pillars of Navantia’s strategic plan, being a key engine to assure a stable workload for the next ten years, it will benefit all the shipyards of Navantia with an impact on the employment of approximately 7,000 jobs annually, between direct and induced jobs. In addition to the workload for the Navantia Ferrol Shipyard, it will also generate activity in the Bay of Cadiz, through Navantia Sistemas with the development of the frigate’s combat system. 

The design of this new frigate will incorporate remarkable technological advances, such as the new integrated mast configured with different solutions of sensors and antennas, the incorporation of a multi-space mission that expands the capabilities of the ship in all the segments of defence and a new hybrid propulsion plant that is more efficient and silent providing the ship with great versatility. In addition, it will integrate unmanned vehicles on board and will have the capacity for the future installation of directed energy weapons.

The frigates will be equipped with a Spanish combat system, SCOMBA, developed by Navantia. This system acts as the vessel’s brain and integrates all the frigate’s sensors and weapons, such as surface sensors, antisubmarine warfare systems and the navigation and communications systems from Navantia Sistemas.

It should be noted that the frigate F-110 will be the first major Spanish naval program developed within the framework of “Astillero 4.0” which will involve the most advanced integrated control and simulation systems, with the digital twin, which will be complemented by an intelligent management and communication nervous system (Integrated Services System), which will permanently connect the crew to each other, and the crew to the ship’s systems. In addition, it will incorporate processes and components with additive fabrication or 3D printing and will be the first ships in the fleet to have an integrated cybersecurity system that shields ships against increasing threats.

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on the capabilities and experiences of Navantia in the field of LPD/LHD ships? How has the ATHLAS 26.000/Juan Carlos I LHD design evolved and how would you compare this system with others of similar nature in the market today? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: What we can say is that, in accordance to what we see, looking to the Royal Australian Navy and the Spanish Navy, is that there is no other design as capable as the Juan Carlos I Class. This type of ship is the type of aspiration for any navy that wants to have projection capabilities but, at the same time, wants to execute significant multi-missions and amphibious missions. These ships allow our navies to move faster and project their force in a very efficient way. The LHDs needs to be seen as a whole with the landing craft embarked in them, which are also Navantia’s design. These crafts are key in these missions. Z

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on the current status of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN)’s LHD Program? Both HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide have experienced problems with their large azimuth propulsion pod systems and thus were in dry dock from March 2017 until June 2017. Has this problem been completely overcome? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: The LHDs are recognized by the Commonwealth of Australia as one of their main assets. These ships are performing well, they have recently been jointly deployed in the SEA EXPLORER 2019 exercise, which is the best proof that the ships are working out fine. Hopefully the Turkish Navy will be enjoying these capabilities pretty soon. In this sense, having Navantia and SEDEF working together is another good example of what we can achieve with the right partners. We are extremely proud of how SEDEF is developing the work and the results of the ship are demonstrating to be very good.

Defence Turkey: Focusing on Turkey now, can you elaborate on the current status of the TCG Anadolu LHD Program? What can you tell us about the program schedule?

Sofia HONRUBIA: First of all, I would like to congratulate Defence Turkey for its magazine and the job it does for the promotion of the Turkish Defence Industry. 

Regarding the TCG Anadolu Program status, it has already been set afloat and now it is back in dry-dock to continue the construction process. This means that the current status of the Anadolu LHD Program is quite good and as per schedule. This proves that the partnership between Navantia and SEDEF is a success. Usually in Transfer of Technology contracts there are some delays that mostly affect the first unit of a series of ships, but this is not the case with SEDEF, everything is going as planned. This means that the second ship, TCG Trakya, could be built even faster, reducing the delivery time compared with the first one.

Defence Turkey: What can you tell us about the services and components, including the diesel engines and IPMS, being provided by Navantia under the contract?

Sofia HONRUBIA: As you are very well mentioning in addition to the IPMS, diesel engines and the design of the ship, Navantia is also providing technical assistance to SEDEF shipyard with a Resident Team. Since April 2016 we have located a team of experts at SEDEF shipyard. This team consists of engineers and experienced technicians that are assisting SEDEF in anything they need to ensure a smooth transfer of information and also to solve, as soon as possible, any issues that could arise during the construction of the ships. 

Defence Turkey: Can you elaborate on Navantia’s approach to the Turkish Navy’s TF-2000 Air Defence Warfare Destroyer and MILGEM Programs?  

Sofia HONRUBIA: Navantia is a worldwide leader in Anti-Air Warfare Frigates. I think Turkey could benefit from the experience Navantia has gained with the TCG Anadolu Program. Let’s not forget that in addition to supplying ships to the Spanish Navy, Navantia has also been working with foreign navies such as the Norwegian Navy and Australian Navy in AAW Frigates. We have been recently selected for the concept design phase of USA’s FFG(X) Program as well. 

Right now, Navantia and Turkey know each other very well and this cooperation should turn out in developing the most complex of navy ships, such an AAW vessel. The TF2000 Program is a very ambitious project where experience matters. In the past, Navantia built ships with the engineering provided by others, mostly from North American shipyards. Nowadays, we are the ones providing the design to other shipyards, including North American ones and everything started with our successful AAW frigate, the F100 series. This experience could be of great value for Turkey in the TF 2000 Program to follow the same path as Navantia did in the past.

Regarding MILGEM, since this Program is already ongoing, Navantia, with its local partner AYESAŞ, is offering its solution for the Integrated Platform Management System, IPMS. The TCG Anadolu is equipped with Navantia-AYESAŞ IPMS and we are of the opinion that the Navy would benefit from having this system installed in their most technologically developed ships, the LHD, the MILGEM, and in the future, the TF2000 frigates as well. This will bring commonality to the Navy and an easier transition from one ship to another for the crews. 

Defence Turkey: What are the aspirations of Navantia towards a long-term presence in Turkey through cooperation? How does Navantia see long-term exclusive partnerships? Could you give us an overview of Military/Naval programs that Navantia is interested in Turkey in the short to medium term?

Sofia HONRUBIA: Navantia has been present in Turkey for almost twenty years, confirming its commitment with the country with the opening of Navantia Turkey in 2013.

We have been working with our partner SEDEF not only for the LHD Program but also for other opportunities that may arise in the international market that could be supplied from Turkey. This is the next step for Navantia in Turkey, to increase the supply of Navantia products from this country, therefore increasing exports from Turkey.

In the short term, I see the TCG Trakya as the second LHD ship. Turkey is a big country, with a big coastline and surrounded by two seas. Having two Multi-Purpose Amphibious Assault Ships not only makes sense but it will also provide a huge capability to the Turkish Navy and therefore to the country and its population.

After that, and as I mentioned before, Navantia would like to play an important role on the TF 2000 Project. 

Defence Turkey: How would you assess the current level of cooperation between Navantia and Turkish Industry? 

Sofia HONRUBIA: In addition to the partnership with SEDEF for the construction of Turkish LHD ships and the partnership with AYESAŞ for the supply of the IPMS, we have also been involved DELTAMARINE, an engineering company, in the design of the ship. 

With these partnerships, not only Turkey’s local value of supply for the LHD ships has been increased, but in addition, Navantia has become stronger, being able to improve the quality of our products and therefore, providing better value to our clients. 

Defence Turkey: How do you asses the Turkish Defence Industry in terms of its overall capabilities and suitability for international partnership?

Sofia HONRUBIA: This a good question and I would like to provide an answer from the perspective of the foreign market. The Turkish defence industry has increased its capabilities incredibly in the last twenty years. The country, through the President of Defence Industries, the SSB has made an incredible effort developing indigenous projects that now can be exported and compete on the global market. Now, you can see Turkish companies, from system developers to product manufacturers competing everywhere on the international market. This couldn’t have been possible without the big investment the country has made in its Defence Industry in the past two decades, so it is a good example of how things have to be done to go from local to global.

Thank you very much for the chance to speak on behalf of Navantia to Defence Turkey Magazine.

Defence Turkey: Thank you very much for this interview..