Spanish shipbuilding and systems group Navantia has delivered the first of five Avante 2200 corvettes built for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under a contract signed in 2018.
HMS Al Jubail was handed over and commissioned into the Royal Saudi Naval Forces at La Carraca naval base in San Fernando, Cádiz. The ship and its four sisters will in due course join the Royal Saudi Naval Force’s Western Fleet.
The corvette programme – known as Project Al Sarawat – covers the build and delivery of five Avante 2200 ships together with an initial five-year support package (with an option for a further five years). Training, education and logistics elements, together with systems and equipment to support maintenance at King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah, are also included in the €1.8 billion deal.
Project Al Sarawat is intended to deliver the Royal Saudi Naval Forces with a new class of multipurpose corvette able to fulfil a number of peacetime roles in the Red Sea region, including maritime surveillance and security, and search and rescue.
At the same time, the vessels’ bring a significant warfighting capability with regard to air defence, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering and electronic warfare.
At 104m in length and 14m in beam and displacing around 2,200tonnes, the Avante 2200 variant being procured for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces is powered by a combined diesel and diesel propulsion plant. The design is able to achieve a maximum speed of 27knots and a range of up to 4,500nm at cruising speed. Endurance is up to 21 days, with accommodation on board providing for up to 102 crew and passengers.
The armament fit specified by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces includes a Leonardo 76/62 Super Rapid medium-calibre gun and a Rheinmetall Millennium 35mm close-in weapon system; provision is also made for the MBDA VL Mica point-defence missile system (with 16 vertical launcher cells fitted forward) and up to eight MBDA MM40 Block 3 Exocet surface-to-surface guided weapons (fitted athwartships).
Aviation facilities aft provide for the operation and support of a single MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. The RSNF has acquired a fleet of 10 MH-60R helicopters under a US Foreign Military Sales case.
Al Jubail was launched in July 2020 and commenced sea trials in September last year. The second ship of the class, named Al Diriyah, was launched in November 2020 and has now also completed its sea trials period. The third and fourth vessels, Hail and Jazan, were launched in March 2021 and July 2021, respectively. Both are at an advanced stage of completion. The fifth and final ship, Unayzah, is fitting out after launch in December 2021. It is planned for handover in August 2023, with final delivery to Saudi Arabia scheduled to follow in February 2024.