Saudi Border Guards - Modernization
By 2015 the Saudi Ministry of Interior planned to renovate the Border Guards fleet of Coast Guard vessels, though by 2017 the details of this ambitious plan remained somewhat opaque. While the overall dimensions of the plan are evident - over 1.5 billion euros, twenty 40m boats, thirty 30 meter patrol boats, eighty 15m boats - there are some loose ends, and the precise numbers and types of vessels remain confused in open sources.
Lürssen Werft signed a major contract signed with the Saudi Border Guards in 2013. The contract was for the construction and supply of four categories of marine vessels with a full range of accessories. The 1.5 billion euros deal for the construction of patrol boats for the Border Guards (which are part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country) was reached with Fr. Lürssen Werft in early 2013. However, the implementation of the contract was delayed because of the long process of issuing licenses for the of export military equipment to Saudi Arabia by the German government.
The contract includes two 60m long boats, twenty 40m boats (which will be built in Germany), eighty 15m boats (this is the commission entrusted to Fabio Buzzi’s shipyard) and twenty landing craft (which will be built in Singapore), for a total value of €1.4 billion. The value is such that the Lürssen shipyards had to ask for and obtain the approval of the Bundesbank and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to close the deal.
Germany was set to supply 48 patrol boats to Saudi Arabia within the framework of its border security project. Dieter Walter Haller, German ambassador, said the patrol boats would be supplied to the Kingdom in a staggered schedule. The contract called for the delivery of a mix of TNC 35 and FPB 38 patrol boats. The 'TNC 35' models, which are 35-meters long and are propelled by two diesel engines with a combined output of 7,800 kilowatts. The boat can reach speeds of up to 40 knots. The second models, 'FPB 38' are 38-meter-long and can reach speeds of up to 31 knots. Janes had suggested that the vessels being built for the Saudi Border Guards were CSB 40 patrol boats, which Lürssen said has a length of 40 m and a displacement of 210 tonnes.
On 26 January 2015 the German Lürssen Group announced the start of work on the construction of the patrol boats. Work began on the largest ships at the Peene Werft shipyards in Wolgast, in Northeastern German. By August 2016 Germany's Bremen-based dockyard, Luerssen, had already started building 15 patrol vessels for the project's first phase. The German shipyard Lürssen delivered the first of the patrol boats building for Saudi Arabia's Border Guards at the Saudi port of Jeddah on 18 November 2016. The vessel, "TRS 5243 Jeddah" was the first of fifteen TNC 35 built by the German shipyard.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz who is also the First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior confirmed that the marine vessels project that the border guards’ sector launched will boost the kingdom’s border security. In a speech that he gave at the commissioning of the first long-range boat named “Jeddah” that is part of the naval boats project in Riyadh yesterday, the Crown Prince expressed his happiness at this achievement which “will enhance the security of the nation’s borders”. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef commissioned the boat named “Jeddah” by raising the Saudi Arabian flag and said that he is looking forward to the arrival of these vessels at the naval bases for border guards soon.
By mid-2015 Paris and Riyadh were in a state of confusion over the contract to deliver patrol vessels to the Saudi navy. This contract included the construction of 79 interceptor craft (15 meters in length) which the German shipyard Lürssen subcontracted to Couach shipyard of France. Part of the work would take place in Italy. Fabio Buzzi Design [FB Design] obtained a contract for the construction of 79 of the 15 meter-long boats, for an overall value of €80 million. The FB Design website makes no mention of such a contract.
The French shipyard Couach competed with FBD for this contract. The Couach shipyard had already delivered over 60 naval vessels to KSA between 2001 and 2005. On 25 August 2015 navyrecognition.com reported that Couach would be in charge of the "Interceptor" part of the contract to built 79 Interceptors for Saudi Arabia Coast Guard. The interceptors for Saudi Arabia Coast Guards will be slightly larger than the Couach Plascoa 1300 Interceptor, with a length overall of 13 m - 43'. Max speed: 50 Kn. Range: 200 NM.
On 27 August 2015 Janes reported that Germany's Lürssen group has subcontracted the construction of 79 interceptor craft for the Saudi Coast Guard to the French company Couach. Couach Saudi Arabia Services Company is a subsidiary of Chantier Naval Couach - CNC, a hundred-year-old French yacht-building German company. Couach Saudi Arabia Services Company is a maintenance service provider for ships deployed in Saudi Arabia. Derived from a model already delivered to Saudi Arabia, the interceptors will be 15 m in length, according to lemarin.fr. The Couach contract was reportedly part of an estimated EUR1.4 billion (USD1.6 billion) deal under which Lürssen will produce around 146 patrol boats for the Saudi Coast Guard.
By some reports France won another €500 million commission from Saudi Arabia as a consolation price. It was obtained by DCNS and PIRIOU for the construction of thirty 30 meter patrol boats. On 13 October 2015 French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, accompagnied by his Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, signed 10 billion euro worth of contracts with Saudi Arabia. Deals mainly concern the fields of transport, energy and aerospace. The 10 billion deal includes accords, contracts and letters of intent between the two countries whose economic and political ties have been strengthening in the fields of aerospace and military contracts on behalf of Airbus, transport, energy, health and food markets with French companies. “About 30 patrol boats should be ordered before the end of the year”, said the Prime Minister’s office. The deal that should bring in 600 million euros, although the choice of the shipyard (between four French companies: Piriou-DCNS, CMN, Ocea and Couach) was initially unknown.
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