Naviris steams ahead at full speed, says company COO

Luca Peruzzi

In the nine months since becoming operational last January, the Naviris joint-venture between Fincantieri and Naval Group has grown and established itself as a single entity capable to operate on the international market and satisfy project management, coordination and engineering requirements, Enrico Bonetti, COO of Naviris explains to EDR On-Line.

“Since the company became operational at the beginning of the year, notwithstanding the organizational and travelling difficulties created by the COVID pandemic, Naviris was able to structure itself in terms of manpower and facilities to operate as a single and independent entity capable to meet the challenges of the international market and satisfy the initial schedule and organizational requests of the first two awarded contracts”, the Naviris’ COO says.

In parallel with the joint-venture’s first steps towards full operational capability achievement, in accordance with the Intergovernmental agreement signed between France and Italy in Naples last February.- “The two nations’ governmental and military authorities have together established the procedures and formed the joint committee, composed by the head of the two Ministries of Defence’s National Directorate of Armaments, to provide a full governmental, financial and balanced industrial package to the international marketing campaigns which Naviris intends to pursue”, explains the Naviris’ representative.

“To pursue the scope of the two contracts awarded by the OCCAR Agency and respectively regarding five research and Technology (R&T) programmes and the two countries’ navies Horizon-type AAW (Anti-Air Warfare) Mid-Life Update feasibility study, the joint-venture has quickly grown in terms of project management an engineering personnel provided by both the two mothers companies as well as hired on the market, especially in the engineering sector to cope with the second programme”, he elaborates.

On behalf of the two nation’s Ministries of Defence, on 4 June 2020 the OCCAR’s Joint Armaments Cooperation organization awarded a contract to Naviris centered on five R&T projects regarding digital ship development, energy consumption optimization, fuel cells for surface vessels, logistics of the future and the ‘winning a sea state’, the latter to enhance operational capabilities in worse environmental operations. Naviris acts as prime contractor and coordinator of the five R&T projects activities lasting between 17 and 42 months and pursued by the two mothers’ companies.

“These R&T projects will be the first example of the advanced integration between the two companies organization, as integrated teams will work under the direction of Naviris in France and Italy to achieve the projects goals, exploiting the Naval Group sites of Nantes-Indret, Ollioules and Lorient, as well as the Sirehna subsidiary, alongside the Fincantieri’s sites of Genova and Trieste, together with the Italian Group’s Cetena and Seastema subsidiaries”, Bonetti tells EDR On-Line.

The five R&T projects are jointly funded 50/50 by the two mother companies (50/50 each) and by the two MoDs for a total value of € 43 million. Thanks to this arrangement, the JV will own the intellectual property of all the research findings and the two MoDs will have the use license and be able to fully exploit them in support of their shipbuilding and logistic support programmes. “The technologies which are being developed through these projects are expected to find the first main application in the new European Patrol Corvette (EPC) programme being pursued by Italy, France, Spain and Greece”.

The OCCAR contract awarded to Naviris on last July for the Mid-Life Upgrade feasibility study of the two countries’ navies Horizon-type AAW destroyers is also advancing quickly on schedule. “Between mid-September and mid-October, Naviris has awarded all the activities contracts to the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) providers of the in-service destroyers combat system suite, including Leonardo, Thales, MBDA, and Eurosam (formed by MBDA and Thales) and SIGEN (by Elettronica and Thales) consortiums”, Bonetti says, expressing his satisfaction for the achieved milestone. Looking to the Horizon MLU programme next phases after the 12 months feasibility study, the Naviris COO highlighted a subsequent technical solutions development phase of about 18 months with the aim to discuss by late 2023 contract details of the upgrading content in order to award the contract and begin the work on the lead-vessel. The latter is expected, according to the programme general plan, to be an Italian ship, which should be subjected to work in the first half of 2025.

The French-Italian JV on surface vessels is also establishing the base for the first complete shipbuilding project to be pursued by the new company: the PESCO’s European Patrol Corvette. Coordinated by Italy and involving France, Spain and Greece, the EPC programme “constitutes a key effort to establish Naviris as ship design authority in the international arena. We are in the process to elaborate an agreement with Navantia as the other main shipbuilding industry being involved in the programme, for the joint pursuit of the funding calls of the European Defence Fund (EDF) in 2021”, Bonetti explains, adding that this agreement is expected to be reached within the end of the current year. The latter activity will allow Naviris to fund the work on the ship design and engineering development, while the countries’ MoDs will coordinate their efforts to synchronize their respective procurement programmes.    

In the meantime, Naviris is already actively pursuing international marketing campaigns, “with the first opportunities coming from programmes in four countries in the South-Est Asia region”, the Naviris COO says without providing further details.

A future of challenging activities, programmes and marketing opportunities awaits Naviris, which inherits the know-how and experience of the shipbuilders and cluster of companies which launched the Horizon and FREMM programmes and which today, thanks to the joint work with other players, is the frontrunner in pursuing the shipbuilding consolidation in Europe at least in the surface vessel sector.

Photos courtesy Fincantieri, Naval Group and Marine Nationale