Updated:20/02/2021 20: 55h
All prepared in the San Fernando shipyard to receive the first expedition of Saudi sailors to be trained in the Arsenal of La Carraca in the management of corvettes that Navantia builds for its Navy. The arrival of these sailors has been delayed as a result of the outbreak of the pandemic. The bulk of the troops were scheduled to arrive in San Fernando last fall, however, the entry of these soldiers will take place this spring. The Spanish public company has completed the rehabilitation works on one of the Arsenal’s historic pavilions. It is the Cuatro Torres building, which will serve as accommodation and a meeting center. On March 29 the third unit is launched and on April 13 the keel of the fifth and final corvette is laid. This naval program is on schedule.
It should be remembered that in January 2019, when the work on the corvettes started, a first Saudi expedition arrived at the San Fernando shipyard, composed of technicians and high-ranking military personnel. This contingent was increased in January 2020 with the arrival of new personnel to supervise the work and learn first-hand about the simulators that have been developed in the shipyard’s Systems Unit for handling the ships. These simulators are tables that integrate the entire technical picture of the ships in virtual reality and will serve to develop the first notions of the instruction. From now on it is time for the staggered arrival of the different crews that will take over the ships and whose number amounts to about 600 people. For to house these sailors, between officers, NCOs and troops, the old prison of La Carraca or pavilion of the Four Towers has been enabled. It is an old Arsenal building that has been conditioned as a military residence and whose work has been completed. In fact, it now begins its equipment as if it were a hotel.
The pavilion is the place chosen to host the Saudi troops during the training phase. This property was in disuse and has needed a deep rehabilitation to condition it as a military residence. The work has lasted almost two years.
The Arsenal of La Carraca it is a military complex with 300 years of history. They will coexist in the Arsenal for the next few months and until the end of the corvettes work, in June 2023 the fifth and last unit will be delivered, half a thousand Saudi soldiers. However, the place where they will spend their rest time is in the Four Towers pavilion, that is, in the old arsenal prison where the revolutionary and military Francisco Miranda died in 1816.
The work of the five corvettes officially started in the San Fernando shipyard on January 15, 2019 with the traditional sheet metal cutting. This contract, with an investment of 1,813 million euros, came into full force in November 2018 after its signing in July of the same year.
The contract between Spain and Arabia has at the same time allowed an alliance between both countries for naval technological development. This strategic alliance materialized with the creation of the company SANNI (Sami Navantia Naval Industries), 49% owned by Navantia and 51% owned by the Saudi state-owned SAMI (Saudi Arabian Military Industries, for its acronym in English). The objective of this strategic alliance is the integration and adaptation of the combat and control systems for the Saudi corvettes, in addition to exploring the possibility of new naval contracts.
In fact, Navantia has officially presented an offer to the Saudi Government for the construction of two amphibious ships and also an advance for participation in a program of new frigates. The Riyadh authorities confirmed at the time that the contract for the corvettes, which are now being built in San Fernando, will not have continuity, that is, the five ships complete the needs of its Navy, but the door is open to a new agreement for amphibians and frigates.