DIMDEX 2024 – Fincantieri’s training, support and shipbuilding opportunities in Qatar

Luca Peruzzi

Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilding champion, is looking for new opportunities to meet the needs of the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces (QENF) in terms of training, in-service and logistic support, alongside shipbuilding, as the 3.8 Euro billion Fleet renewal programme assigned in 2016 to the company by the Qatar Ministry of Defence (MoD) is nearing the end of vessels delivery

The Memorandum of Understading (MoU) signed on the last day of DIMDEX 2024 between Fincantieri’s Naval Vessels Division General Manager Dario Deste and the QENF commander, Major General Abdulla Hassan Al-Sulaiti, “is an important step towards the satisfaction of Qatar MoD and Navy potential and innovative personnel training and proficiency future needs,” Mauro Manzini, Director Sales Naval Vessels Division at Fincantieri explained to EDR On-Line after the DIMDEX 2024 event.

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“The company and the QENF will deepen discussions on contents and modes to consolidate and improve the cutting-edge Italian education and training patterns provided by Fincantieri as prime contractor with the support of the Italian MoD and Navy, alongside other defence partners,” the Fincantieri representative explained.

The MoU relates the future training and proficiency opportunities linked to in-service and in-country requirements, as the current programme already includes the education and training of initial crews and base maintainers by the Italian Navy and industry for the delivered and to be delivered ships under the contract awarded in 2016. The in-country after sales and services are carried out by the Fincantieri Service Middle East company based in Doha, as a wholly owned subsidiary licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre.

“The MoU’s patterns of evolution will be based on an innovative concept of education and training and on the continuous growth of the QENF maritime capabilities,” he explained.

Fincantieri is also looking to new shipbuilding projects for the QENF, after the completion of the current main programme. “The QENF has expressed an interest for a logistic support vessel capable to accomplish a wide range of missions. In its product portfolio, Fincantieri has its family of Vulcano class LSSs, which in addition to fleet replenishment and other military missions, can also conduct disaster relief and humanitarian aid thanks to extended medical facilities and modular areas. These capabilities have already demonstrated their effectiveness during the recent deployment of Italian Navy Ship Vulcano LSS in support of the Gaza’s population requiring medical assistance, with the contribution of Qatar military personnel.”

Towards the end of the comprehensive Fleet Renewal Programme

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The last of four Al Zubarah-class corvettes was delivered in May 2023 and has arrived in Qatar last December, while the two Musherib-class OPVs were already delivered and in service with the QNEF. The Al Fulk-class LPD was launched at Fincantieri’s Palermo shipyard in January 2023 and transferred to the Muggiano (La Spezia) yard where the ship is under final outfitting and on sea trials. “The ship is expected to be delivered to the customer later this year,” said the Fincantieri representative. 

Once delivered to the QENF in Italy, as done for the previous ships, the LPD crew will complete the training and qualification activities with the Italian Navy, and then leave for Qatar. No further details were released by Fincantieri, but according to the timeline of previous vessels, the Al Fulk is expected to reach Qatar in 2025.

Under G2G agreements between Italian and Qatari Governments, MoDs and Navies, the Italian Navy has provided education and operational training courses at its educational institutions, training schools and centres for the crew members, all managed by a dedicated programme office at the Italian Navy’s headquarters working with Italian MoD’s Naval Armament Directorate (NAVARM), while a liaison office works side-by-side with QNEF programme personnel in Qatar.

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In addition to the industrial training provided to the QENF ship crews and base maintainers by all the companies involved in the programme, mainly represented by Leonardo, MBDA Italia and Elettronica, the comprehensive and robust package provided by Fincantieri also includes long-term integrated logistic support and in-service support (up to 10 years for the corvettes, and five years for the OPVs and LPD), alongside a comprehensive training and simulation centre in Qatar for crew operational proficiency and training of future personnel. Already operational, the centre was provided and set up by Fincantieri NexTech and Cetena companies with Leonardo as combat system simulator provider and developer. It features the latest generation simulation environment based on Cetena (Fincantieri NexTech) company’s proprietary MANTA (Multipurpose Advanced Naval Training Architecture). The centre’s full mission simulator infrastructure is centred on a primary (full) bridge and Combat Operation Centre (full), a secondary bridge (reduced) and COC (reduced) to simulate a second platform, in addition to instructor and debriefing facilities and a number of dedicated mission simulators for helicopter, fast boat, tactical and small arms, alongside classrooms, simulation and training equipment.

Photos courtesy courtesy G. Arra and Fincantieri NexTech