Qatar Emiri Naval Forces (QENF) - Modernization
An Iranian war vessel and naval support vessel docked in the Port of Doha 13 February 2010 for a four-day port call coinciding with the dates of the annual U.S.-Islamic Forum. Both Secretary Clinton and Senator Kerry (D-MA) delivered public remarks at the Forum. About 300 cadets aboard the support vessel toured the Qatari naval facility as part of the visit. The Iranian visit was an outcome of the July visit to Tehran by Qatar's Armed Forces Chief of Staff. It had been over ten years since the last port call by Iranian navy vessels. One element downplaying the importance of this naval visit was the absence from Doha of the head of Qatar's navy, who was on a long-scheduled trip abroad.
The U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Qatar Emiri Navy (QEN) participated in Exercise Eastern Sailor off the coast of Qatar 10-11 March 2011. Eastern Sailor was a joint training exercise intended to increase tactical proficiency in critical mission areas and support the continuation of cooperative partnerships in the region. The U.S. joined with Qatari forces to conduct a routine bilateral surface exercise which included defensive operational training using small boat tactics and maritime infrastructure protection. Throughout the exercise, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard performed crew swaps with each other, allowing members to observe how the other branch lives and operates. A select few Sailors and Coast Guardsmen were also selected to visit the Qatari Barzan Class fast strike craft ship QENS Deebel.
Amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in the Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX), March 26-28, 2012. DIMDEX featured 14 warships from 11 different navies, as well as exhibitors and guest speakers from all over the world. DIMDEX is beneficial for Sailors and Marines to learn how different navies react to and handle situations in the region.
Qatar has relied primarily on smaller patrol vessels. Its most substantial vessels are four Vita-class fast attack craft (480 tons) and three Combattante III fast attack craft (430 tons). It was announced at DIMDEX 2014 that NDSQ had signed a MoU to supply a 52 m diving support ship and six patrol boats to the QENF for QAR3 billion (USD823 million). The Qatari coastguard was to buy 17 fast patrol vessels from the Turkish Ares shipyard, in 46m (two), 33m (10) and 23m (five) versions. The navy was to get six 50m axe-bow vessels and a 52m diving support vessel from Qatari shipyard Nakilat Damen.
Nakilat-Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ), a joint venture between Damen and Qatar's Nakilat, inched closer to a first contract to build in country a ship for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces (QENF), signing of a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a contract worth up to EUR42 million (USD47.5 million) at the DIMDEX 2016 defence exhibition in Doha on 31 March 2016. The agreement covers the delivery of a new diving support ship.
Turkey signed an MoU with Qatar to deliver 17 fast patrol boats for the Qatar Coast Guard Services at the fourth Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Dimdex 2014). The agreement was signed between Qatar’s Brig. Abdullah Saad al-Kharji, Deputy of Director Logistics Department, Ministry of Interior and Turkey’s Kerim Kalafatoglu, Chairman & Executive Director for Ares Shipyard Ltd. Ares Shipyard Ltd is a privately-owned Turkish company based in Antalya that specialises in building patrol boats and vessels for military and paramilitary use.
Qatar had been "actively seeking corvettes" to add to its Navy. Indeed, as recently as 2015, negotiations were progressing with shipbuilders such as locally owned Etihad Ship Building, a joint venture with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, believed to involve the upgrade or purchase of new ships for Qatar's navy. Officials proposed bolstering the Qatari Navy’s capabilities with the addition of four corvettes, and the favored option appeared to be Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding’s Sigma-class corvette (1,690 tons). Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti flew to Qatar for Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX), which was held 29-31 March 2016, with the aim of signing the nonbinding agreement to sell four corvettes and one supply vessel to the Qatari navy. France had previously offered its own deal for naval vessels but had not reached the point of signing any deal, binding or nonbinding.
The Qatari navy is not to be left behind as Italian manufacturer Fincantieri has been contracted to build four corvettes and an amphibious landing dock. The Italian defence company has also been contracted to build submarines for Qatar as well as construct an offshore base for Qatar’s navy.
Fincantieri, one of the world’s most important shipbuilding groups, and the Qatari Ministry of Defence, signed 16 June 2016 in Rome a contract for the construction of seven new generation units included in the national naval acquisition program. The signing took place between the Commander of Qatar Emiri Naval Forces, Staff Major General Mohammed Nasser Al Mohannadi and the CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono, in the presence of the Ministers of Defence of the two countries, Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah and Roberta Pinotti.
The contract, amounting for Fincantieri to approx. 4 billion euros, envisaged the supply of seven surface vessels, of which four corvettes of over 100 meters in length, one amphibious vessel (LPD - Landing Platform Dock), and two patrol vessels (OPV - Offshore Patrol Vessel) as well as support services in Qatar for further 15 years after the delivery of the vessels. All the units will be entirely built in Fincantieri Italian shipyards starting from 2018, ensuring 6 years of work and an important impact on the main Italian defense companies.
Fincantieri has prevailed over other naval shipbuilders thanks to a project recognized as the most advanced and innovative of all. This was also achieved based on the experience gained by Fincantieri in the construction of high-tech vessels for some of the most prestigious foreign navies.
Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “This is a day to remember for Fincantieri, because winning the global competition for such a programme was far from easy. We have achieved a remarkable result, which allows the company to become a world leader also in the defense sector, as in cruise and offshore. With this contract Fincantieri creates a true partnership with the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces, which now position themselves as technologically advanced. The backlog increase will guarantee work for another ten years at least, ensuring continuity to the activities in the shipyards, creating the conditions to contribute to the country’s growth and increase the value for the shareholders.” Bono concluded: “We achieved this goal thanks to the support of the “Italian System”, finally responding to the great ambitions of the major national companies, and to the key role played in this deal by our Government and our Navy, that supported us actively until the final closing of the agreement”.
The deal covered delivery seven vessels to Qatar: four 105 meter multirole corvettes; two 60 meter fast patrol missile vessels; and one landing platform dock (LPD) amphibious/logistics ship. The Italian company had already sold one of the LPDs to Algeria, where it has entered service as the Kalaat Béni Abbès.
As part of its business development strategy in the Middle East, Fincantieri established Fincantieri Services Middle East in Doha (Qatar), a wholly owned subsidiary licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre, which will be the focal point of all the services and after sales activities on the naval vessels of the Group in the country. The company, already operational by 2018, entered into local agreements provided by the 2016 contract for the supply to the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces of seven surface vessels and the related support services. These agreements will support and promote the entire shipbuilding and defense services industry in Qatar.
Fincantieri Services Middle East is a management company and will be engaged in a wide range of services for both the platform and the combat system, and will be particularly focused on the life cycle management of the vessels. It will supply both integrated logistic support, typically developed during design and construction of the ships, including training activities, language courses, boarding and lodging, and in service support, dedicated to maintenance and developed after delivery and during operation of the vessel.
The establishment of Fincantieri Services Middle East in Qatar’s capital city follows the important contract signed by Fincantieri with the Qatari Ministry of Defence in June 2016, for a value of almost 4 billion euros, for the construction of seven surface vessels, of which four corvettes of over 100 meters in length, one amphibious vessel (LPD - Landing Platform Dock), and two patrol vessels (OPV - Offshore Patrol Vessel), as well as support services in Qatar for an additional 10 years after delivery of the vessels. All the units will be entirely built in the Fincantieri Italian shipyards starting from 2018, ensuring several years of work and an important impact on the main Italian defense companies.
On 24 January 2020 Fincantieri and the Ministry of Defence of Qatar through Barzan Holding, a company wholly owned by the Qatari Ministry of Defense and responsible for empowering the military capabilities of the national armed force in the state, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Doha, aimed at strengthening their strategic partnership through the evaluation and studies of new technologies and capabilities, possibly leading to a future acquisition of new vessels already in 2020. The programs indicated in the MOU include, among others, the design, construction and management of the naval base, whole warship fleet management, the application of new technologies such as digital radar and cybersecurity, as well as the supply of cutting-edge naval vessels and submarines.
The signing between the CEO of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono, and the President of Barzan Holding, Nasser Al Naimi, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence of Qatar, took place in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah and high rank Officers of the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces.
The understanding improves the strategic relationship between Fincantieri and Qatari Armed Forces and falls within Fincantieri's business development strategy in the Middle East. In fact, the company signed an almost 4 billion euros contract with the Qatari Ministry of Defence in June 2016 for the construction of seven surface vessels currently being built in the Group's Italian shipyards. The contract included the construction of four corvettes of over 100 meters in length, one amphibious vessel and two patrol vessels, as well as support services in Qatar for an additional 10 years after delivery. In the context of further strengthening its positioning in the Middle East, Fincantieri established Fincantieri Services Middle East in Doha, which will be the focal point for all the services and after sales activities on the naval vessels built by the Group for Qatar.
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