The association between Naval Group and Constanta Naval Station (SNC) won the tender for the delivery of four new corvettes to the Romanian Naval Forces.
Is an important victory for Naval Group, Romania being the first NATO state to choose the Gowind corvette.
The contract requires the construction of four multirole corvettes, the modernization of the two Type 22 frigates (Romanian designation: T22R) of the Romanian Navy, as well as the construction of a maintenance center and a training center.
The main requirements of this program imply that all four ships must be built in a Romanian shipyard with technology transfer and that the ships must have the capability to fight in at least two different environments (aerial warfare, naval warfare and anti-submarine warfare). The corvettes must have a hangar capable of hosting a medium helicopter of up to 10 tonnes.
Also, the builder commits to deliver the first corvette within three years, and all four within seven years.
Three companies fought for this contract, the decisive criteria for awarding the contract being the lowest price, the total amount allocated by the Romanian state for this project being 1.6 billion euros.
Naval Group, which proposed the Gowind 2500 corvette, won the auction with 1.2 billion euros. The French company, who do not own a shipyard in Romania, have associated with the Constanta Shipyard where the four corvettes will be built.
Gowind 2500 corvettes will exclusively be equipped with systems, such as the Thales radar and VL MICA missiles and Exocet produced by MBDA.
Dutch company Damen, which owns two shipyards in Romania, Damen Galati and Damen Mangalia (together with the Romanian state), was ranked second. The Dutch proposed the Sigma 10514 corvette offering a price of 1.25 billion euros.
The proposed Sigma corvettes were to be equipped with US-made weapons including the ESSM air defense system and the Harpoon anti-ship missile.
On the third place was the Italian company Fincantieri, which also owns two shipyards in Romania: Vard Braila and Vard Tulcea.
Fincantieri proposed the Abu Dhabi Enhanced class and offered a price of 1.34 billion euros. The weapons installed on board would be similar to the one proposed by the French, including the VL MICA air defense missile and the Exocet anti-ship missile.
Gowind 2500, the future corvette of Romania
Naval Group proposed to Romania the Gowind 2500 corvette in a configuration similar to the egyptian corvettes. The warships with a displacement of 2,500 tons and a length of 102 m have Combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion.
But according to Naval Group, the Romanian ones might be equiped with a CODLAD diesel-electric propulsion system.
The exact configuration regarding the sensors and weaponry has not yet been made public, but most likely, the corvettes proposed to Romania will be exclusively equipped with French systems. This is not necessarily mandatory, as the customer can also choose systems from others manufacturers too.< IMG > [ - poza Gowind 2500 cu specificatiile - ]
Installed inside the conical base of the mast is the SMART-S MK2 3D Passive Ellectronically Scanned Array (PESA) radar, with a range of up to 250 km.
Exellent ships in anti-submarine warfare, the corvettes are equiped with two triple-torpedo launchers and two sonars: a Kingklip Hull Mounted Sonar and a Captas 2 variable depth sonar.
An ASW helicopter can be operated aboard the ship, Gowind having a helipad and a hangar for hosting a medium helicopter of up to 10 tons.
In terms of air defense warfare, the Gowind 2500 comes with a 16-cell vertical launch system (VLS) for VL MICA anti-aircraft missiles, and has eight Exocet missiles for anti-ship combat.
There are also three cannons onboard, a 76 mm OTO Melara main cannon and two 20 mm Nexter Narwhal automatic cannons.
The entire suite of sensors and armament is managed by a SETIS combat management system (CMS) developed by Naval Group.
A controversial program: Naval Group is declared winner, Damen disputes the result
Planned years ago, the acquisition of four new corvettes took an important step in November 2016 when the technocrat government at that time had directly entrusted the contract to Damen Galati for the construction of four Sigma 10514 corvettes.
But following the legislative elections in December 2016, the new ruling party decided on 16 March 2017 to cancel the direct attribution of the contract to Damen and launch an auction, giving the chance for more competitors to participate.
The auction was launched in March 2018, four companies entering the competition: Damen, Naval Group, Fincantieri and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the german company later withdrawing.
Then followed a long line of controversies, the auction being suspended several times, its outcome being delayed for more than a year.
At the end of 2018, on November 16, the envelopes with the final offers of the competitors were opened by the Romanian authorities.
Although the Ministry of National Defense has opened the envelopes of the bidders, it did not make an official announcement regarding the outcome. Meanwhile there was a leak of informations, as the financial offers of the competitors have beed announced in the Romanian press.
The Romanian authorities officially anounced the results earlier this month, confirming that the informations leaked to the press regarding the offers of the three competitors and by default the final ranking, were true.
Thus, on 3 July 2019, the Defense Minister officially announced the Naval Group as the winner of this program.
On July 9, Damen filed a complaint alleging a number of irregularities, including the leaks of information to the press regarding the participants financial offers. This action might delay again the award of this contract.
The Type 22 frigates modernization
The program for the construction of the four corvettes is made at the same time with the modernization of the two Type 22 frigates of the Romanian Naval Forces included by the Romanian authorities as an offset in this program.
The purchase of these two Type 22 Batch 2 frigates on January 14, 2003, was another controversial project.
This business was in the center of a huge corruption scandal, Romania paying for the two disarmed ex-Royal Navy warships, the fabulous amount of 116 million pounds (134 million euros).
For comparison, Chile also acquired in 2003 the HMS Sheffield frigate, a ship of the same class (Type 22 Batch 2) for which it paid only 10 million pounds, unlike Romania that paid 58 million pounds per ship.
Subsequently, Chile has armed its frigate, unlike Romania which installed just one 76 mm Oto Melara cannon on each of the ships.
The two large warships were early decommisioned from the Royal Navy, following a series of fund cuts that targeted the entire British Armed Forces.
HMS London (F95) was laid down on February 7, 1983, and launched on October 27, 1984. It officially entered service with Royal Navy on June 5, 1987 and served only about 15 years being decommissioned on January 14, 1999.
In its relatively short career has served as the flagship of the British task force during the 1991 Gulf War.
Sold to Romania, it joined the Romanian Naval Forces on April 21, 2005 being renamed Regina Maria (Queen Mary) with F222 as its pennant number.
The second ship, which served the British Navy under the name of HMS Coventry (F98), was laid down on March 29, 1984 and launched two years later on April 8, 1986. This ship had a 14 year career being commissioned on October 14, 1988, and decommissioned on January 17, 2002.
Named Coventry in honor of the Type 42 HMS Coventry (D118) destroyer, sunk by the Argentinians in 1982 during the Falklands War, this ship served as the leader of the Royal Navys 1st Frigate Squadron.
Coventry was commissioned by the Romanian Navy on September 9, 2004, being renamed Regele Ferdinand (King Ferdinand) and having the pennant number F221. It replaces the Romanian frigate F111 Marasesti as the flagship of the fleet.
The armament onboard the two ships was removed before transfer them to Romania, the Romanian Navy installing only a 76 mm Oto Melara cannon on each frigate.
The rearmament was to be the subject of another contract, which never happened, the Romanian authorities promising each year that the modernization of the frigates will be eventually made.
Finnaly, the solution found was to include the modernization of the frigates as offset in the contract for the construction of the four new corvettes.
The two T22R frigates which are to be upgraded by Naval Group, will probably receive a package of sensors and weapons similar to the corvettes.
Because the Type 22 frigates are much larger ships, with a displacement of 4,800 tons and a length of 145.6 meters, theoretically, the ships could be armed more consistently than the four Gowind corvettes. But this depends on a limited budget.
According to Romania Military (www.rumaniamilitary.ro) website, a possible arming variant would consist of two vertical launchers of 12 VL MICA missiles each and two quadruple Exocet missile launchers.< IMG > [ - poza RoMil cu inarmarea Type 22 - ]
Mobile land-based anti-ship missile launchers
Another related program of the Romanian Naval Forces is the purchase of new mobile land-based anti-ship missile launchers.
As in the case of the corvettes auction, this tender launched in 2018 has encountered numerous problems, being canceled and restarted several times. And again, as in the case of the corvettes, the criteria of awarding the contract was the lowest price.
Initially four companies announced their intention to participate: - MBDA: the European multinational proposed Exocet MM40 Block 3 missile; - Boeing: the well-known american company offered the Harpoon anti-ship missile; - Saab: the Swedish company in association with the German company Diehl Defence proposed the RBS15 Mk3 missile; - Kongsberg: the Norwegian company offered the Naval Stryke Missile (NSM).
After the progam was cancelled and resumed several times, only MBDA remained in the competition, but as we speak there are informations via Romania Military that MBDA also pulled out of the bid, which could again lead to a new cancellation followed by a new restart of the procedures.
The new coastal anti-ship batteries will replace the old 4K41 Rubezh mobile systems equiped with the P-15 Termit anti-ship missiles also used by the Romanian Marasesti frigate.
The multirole corvette program will be followed by other major programs, the Romanian Naval Forces further planning the acquisition of three new conventional attack submarines and three new frigates.
As in the corvettes program, the Romanian authorities want to built the new submarines and frigates locally in a Romanian shipyard.