Corvettes why Fincantieri overtook Naval Group in Greece

Corvettes: why Fincantieri overtook Naval Group in Greece

The decision seems imminent. Athens could quickly pick the builder of the four corvettes destined for the Greek Navy, which is planning to reinforce itself against Turkey, sources agree with La Tribune. The Navy presented an assessment to Prime Minister Kyriákos Mitsotákis last Friday. Three European shipyards are on a ‘shortlist’ that doesn’t really give their names, tearing each other apart to win this program. The Hellenic Navy listed them in order: the Italian Fincantieri (Al Zubarah class corvettes), then the Naval Group (Gowind 2500), and finally the Dutch ladies (Sigma 10514). The first two are the two big favorites of this competition, especially Fincantieri who have promised a lot to Greece.

However, all is not settled yet, even if the Italian group took the lead over their French rivals down the stretch. Because the Greek Navy would have explained to the Prime Minister that the three “drafts” satisfied them. Beyond the price of the ships and the delivery schedule – two of the most important criteria of the competition – the choice of Athens will be both a political and a strategic one. Which certainly condemns Damen that the Netherlands does not have much calming policy to bring to Greece on the geopolitical side. As another key element, this program must also closely involve the Greek naval industry (Elefsis or Skaramangas). Finally, this calendar could be turned upside down by possible snap general elections.

The Rise of Fincantieri

The Italians, who were able to take advantage of France’s international vacillation in the presidential election and then in the parliamentary elections, have made a veritable “climb” in this competition in recent weeks. Because Fincantieri’s offer, which seduced the Greek Navy, came out of nowhere. According to our information, the Italians have offered Greece four Al Zubarah-class “Doha” corvettes (3,200 tons) for around 2 billion euros, while the price of the four of the same class sold in Qatar in 2017 would rise to 3.2 billion euros without Armor. For the Greeks, the Italians managed to make a wonderful effort on the price … To be continued, especially since the Elefsis shipyard will require very large investments. That might please the Qataris, who witnessed the launch of the fourth corvette in March, which is more like a light frigate.

Allied in this campaign with Elefsis in the possible manufacture of corvettes, Fincantieri has found an ally in the Greek government in the person of Development Minister Spyrídon-Ádonis Georgiádis, who wants to save the heavily indebted Greek shipyard at all costs (it is mentioned 400 million debt). . The Elefsis shipyard would be taken over by an American fund. The United States could embark on the Greek corvettes’ acts in favor of the Italians. However, if the Greeks opted for the “Doha”, they would end up with four different suppliers: Kortenaer-class (ladies), Hydra-class (TKMS), FDI (Naval Group) and “Doha” (Fincantieri) frigates. . This does not make fleet maintenance easier.

The close links between Ankara and Rome

By electing Fincantieri, Greece may want to side with Italy, while the latter has been close to Ankara for several years in terms of supplies of military equipment (attack helicopters, armored vehicles, naval patrol aircraft, etc.). A period that stretched until 2019, when Italy, like most European countries, stopped issuing licenses after the Turkish offensive against the Kurds. In the 2010-2020 period, Rome also ranked second among countries selling arms to Turkey, according to SIPRI, well behind the United States but ahead of Spain, South Korea and Germany. Between 2014 and 2018, Italian arms manufacturers exported arms worth almost 1 billion euros to Ankara.

If Greece thinks about finding a new partner in Italy, it could be heading for a cruel disillusionment. Today’s Italo-Turkish Summit between Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could be very revealing in this regard. In addition, the Italian Ambassador to Turkey, Massimo Gaiani, announced the colour: “This summit will help us enjoy the fruits of our collaboration over the past few months. The government summit will be a turning point. Defense cooperation is an important aspect of our bilateral relationship. The perfect results of Turkish and Italian companies operating in this field clearly show this. Italy has always viewed Turkey as a strategic partner in industrial cooperation.” Observers expect Italy to lift the arms embargo against Turkey in the context of normalizing relations between the two countries… The Italians seem to want to play it both ways: Athens and Ankara.

Naval Group, the (too?) good student

For its part, the Naval Group appears to have followed all of the DoD’s recommendations to the letter. The group has signed an agreement with the Skaramangas shipyard, which will soon be owned by Greek shipowner Giorgos Prokopiou, despite the legal tangle with billionaire Iskandar Safa’s Privinvest. Only recently, the Naval Group once again showed all its know-how in building partnerships. At the end of June, she signed several contracts and cooperation agreements with Greek defense industrialists under the Greek Defense and Intervention Frigate Program (FDI HN). “The Naval Group meets many criteria. Their offer is the most robust,” we tell La Tribune. But the group left them intoxicated by their favorite status and asleep…

In addition, the Naval Group offers a powerful operational level asset that seemed to seduce the Hellenic Navy some time ago: the FDI (Mediterranean) / Gowind (Aegean) pair, very effective in terms of commonalities, interoperability, maintenance, training, crew and firepower. However, he did not neglect the financial aspect. He would have submitted a new proposal for just under 2 billion euros on June 30th. The Naval Group could have offered five corvettes in their last bid, including two built in Lorient, according to our information, which has not been confirmed. And if you consider that the two shipyards are partners of Naviris…

Michael Cabirol