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Juan Carlos I Strategic Projection Vessel - Program
BPE Buque de Proyección Estratégica

On 05 September of 2003 the Cabinet authorized the Ministry of Defense to begin the necessary performance for the acquisition of four armament programs for the Spanish Armed Forces, for an overall amount of 4,176.87 million euros. These four programs affect the following vehicles: 212 Pizarro battle vehicles, 24 battle Helicopters, 4 S-80 Submarines, and one Ship of Strategic Projection.

The construction of Juan Carlos I class ship supposes four million direct work hours, which is equivalent to the use of 450 people during five years, and other six million hours in induced work. All it is equivalent to the use of 1,630 people during the five years in which the duration of the work is considered. Its budget reaches the 360 million euros.

The Ship of Strategic Projection was in a period of definition and development, anticipating itself the order of execution for October of 2003. If there are no alterations in the anticipated schedule, the construction of the ship was to begin in 2005. The launching would take place in February of 2007, and would be given to the Navy in May of 2008.

In October 2004, the Navy of Australia signed a contract with Izar by which the Spanish society was in charge to make the study of viability of the construction of a ship of strategic projection, hybrid model between an aircraft carrier and a amphibious ship, by an amount of 2 million dollars (1.6 million euros). If the study of viability of the Spanish society were chosen in a competition in which the French DCN also participated. Izar and the Australian Navy would come to the negotiation of new contracts for the other two phases: the functional project and the project of constructive detail and. The ship of strategic projection provided an amphibious platform with an important embarked aerial weapon, reason why its capacity for helicopters allows it to be used in missions of rescue and support in case of natural disasters.

On 30 July 2004 the Spanish Cabinet authorised Izar to constitute a new company in order to respond to the crisis facing these shipyard - basically due to the grave situation facing Izar and also because of the obligation to return subsidies that had been deemed incompatible with European Union norms - the framework of European law awarding independent treatment to the activity of military naval construction because of its special characteristics. The agreement signed with the trade unions on 16 December 2004 opened the way to find a solution and a future for Izar's shipyards, including both the civil yards -through the inclusion of private venture capital- and the military ones that make up Navantia.

On the other hand, Izar decided to delay its meeting of shareholders that would approve its dissolution from the 18 to the 31 of March 2005, before the failure to load of work that registers the shipyards civil public of Sestao. Gijón. Maniscs and Seville, and that can make difficult its process of sale, informed to Europe Press sources into the sector. The Spanish public shipyards decided to pospone the initially predicted date , of 18 March 2005, to summon their universal shareholder, the State Society of Participaciones Industriales (SEPI), with the purpose to obtain more hirings in the activity of civil construction. The meeting of shareholders Izar decided on the 31 March the replacement of capital not to give back the amount of 1,200 million euros, therefore it approved the dissolution and liquidation with the sale of assets.

The year 2005 saw the birth of Navantia, a publicly-owned naval shipbuilding company, arising from Izar being split into two separate firms with the aim of achieving greater business efficiency. The new Spanish military shipbuilder, Navantia, was unveiled on 2 March 2005 by Pedro Solbes, the Spanish government's second vice-prime minister and economics minister, along with Enrique Martínez Robles, the Chairman of the state holding company Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI), and the Chairman of the new company, Juan Pedro Gómez Jaén. The company, specialising in the design, construction and integration of military ships, is owned by SEPI and is the result of the desegregation of Izar's military activities in line with the agreement reached in order to make publicly-owned shipyards viable.

In May 2005 the construction of the Ship of Strategic Projection began simultaneously in the facilities of Ferrol (with the cutting of the first plate corresponding to Block 320) and in Fene (with the cutting of the first plate corresponding to Block 330). The ship, that supposes a service load of 3,100,000 hours of production and 775,000 hours of Engineering, was to be launched in November 2007 and was to be given to the Navy in December 2008. King Juan Carlos presided on 10 March 2008 at Navantia Ferrol Shipyard for the launching of the biggest vessel in the Spanish Navy, the LHD named after him, "Juan Carlos I", whose godmother was Queen Sofía. Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were also present in this ceremony among political and military authorities and Navantia´s Chairman.




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