Navantia – Surface Warships 2021 – Future versatility for today’s naval forces

Navantia is a Spanish global leader in the world of naval design, shipbuilding and engineering. This week alongside worldwide navies, it is present at Surface Warships 2021,  which brings the world’s leading naval forces to a common platform engaging in the evolving requirements of surface vessels for today’s regional conflicts and operations out at sea. With naval surface ships now relying on smart technologies to keep up with growing threats from its near peer adversaries, the ability to respond to threats in real time whilst providing protection to its occupants is paramount to achieving success in a future combat situation.

Navantia is at the forefront of offering leading solutions and capabilities for navies across a variety of naval technologies including multi-role naval capabilities through its F100 & F110 range as well as offering a complete range of ‘Auxiliary and Joint Support Ships’ It has an ever increasing global partnership approach taking its technology to the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to name a few. Its shipyard facilities are also enhancing at a rapid pace as new technologies provide a more efficient and stable process to manage such complex manufacturing cycles.

We talk with Abel Mendez, International Defence & Security Director at Navantia, how its surface fleet frigates are adapting to the global security needs of allied navies, including the ability to provide smart technologies and autonomous capability systems that surface warships need, as well as its approach to partnering local industry with its experience in both design, as well advanced shipbuilding capabilities.


Hello Abel, this week we have Surface Warships, which looks at the regional threats of naval combat, and future naval priorities, from a host of delegations across the globe, what role does the Navantia Frigate F100 & Frigate F110 provide navies when it comes to assessing and responding to different threats facing navies in the current climate?

Navantia / Abel Mendez:

Navantia’s catalogue of frigates is quite ample. We at present are building two extremes: a 3,000 t light frigate for Saudi Arabia (the Al Jubail-class), and a high-end capability design represented by the F110, with 5 units under construction for the Spanish Navy.

The Saudi frigate, Alfa 3000, is an evolution from the Avante2200 corvette class, and is provided with a high level of survivability, powerful combat system with AAW, ASW, ASuW and EW, and capacity for a 10 t helicopter. We currently have five units under construction at our Navantia San Fernando shipyard, with 2 of them already launched. The last ship will be delivered in 2024.

Navantia’s high-end frigate is well represented by the latest generation of F100 frigates “Álvaro de Bazán” class. This is the most representative ship of the Spanish Navy, although by displacement and capacities it could also be qualified as a destroyer, ranging from the 5,800 t of the F100 to 7,000 t of the Hobart Class.

The F100 is a very flexible platform, which tilts around the AEGIS combat system, of which there are 4 operational variants; the F100 and F105 for the Spanish Navy, F310 Fridtjof Nansen class for the Norwegian Navy and the Hobart Class for the Australian Navy. In addition, this concept was proposed as a basis for the Australian SEA5000 frigate programme, and the American FFG(X). The latest example of this concept is the F110, of which the Spanish Navy has contracted five units from Navantia to replace the Santa María Class frigates (based on the American frigate Oliver Hazard Perry) with deliveries between 2027 and 2031.

The concept of ‘smart naval ships’ is accelerating the technologies on naval surface ships, what can you tell us about the Navantia Frigate F110’s stealth properties and the ability to offer remote operational capabilities when deployed out at sea?

The F110 is a 6.000 t – 145 m long multi-purpose smart frigate under construction by Navantia for the Spanish Navy. She will provide both blue and littoral water operation, combined with low manning requirements thanks to technology and intelligent maintenance services onboard. Other navy requirements include efficiency in terms of operating and life cycle cost, high level of survivability, low probability of being detected and classified, ASW sensor suite, land attack missile capability, Electronic Warfare operations and asymmetric defence. The propulsion plant is hybrid, and designed for low emissions in accordance with international environmental regulations.

The flight deck and hangar onboard permit the operation of helicopters and UAVs. The topsides include a multi-mission bay with capacity for containers that could house an extra helicopter if necessary.

Some of the innovations included in the F110 class have been presented by Navantia at the Surface Warships online event.

Another key technological aspect is the integrated mast, which minimises the radar signature so that the frigate can operate with maximum stealth making it difficult to be detected. The mast houses a S-band solid state radar that delivers air surveillance and air combat support capability at the highest level of high multi-function capability.

Other new features include high on-board connectivity, thanks to a wifi network system through the points of light, so it is distributed and provides coverage to all spaces on board, components manufactured by additive printing, use of new materials, etc.

The F110 is provided with a digital twin which permit access to real-time information of the ship systems and equipment from a remote base, enabling smart maintenance, and providing very valuable operational and tactical information. These systems are also used to predict and simulate future actions and even remotely control the vessel thousands of miles away. The architecture is designed to meet stringent cybersecurity requirements, and is configurable and upgradeable through modules that can be rapidly adapted to changing threats.

The F110  contract includes the development of augmented reality systems that allow for the simulation of a large number of on-board maintenance operations, as well as the familiarisation of crews with the vessel, so that operational training is carried out well before the vessel is available.

With the F110 starting construction by mid 2020, is being used as baseline for some international tenders, demonstrating that it is in line with the requirements of many modern navies.

With the role of larger naval programmes currently being undertaken, such as aircraft carriers and submarines, the needs of auxiliary (support ships) are quite often understated in media reports, how does Navantia see the auxiliary (support ship) of the future? 

The auxiliary Ships (Support Ships), likewise combat and patrol ships, also have the requirement of versatility. The ships should be more adaptable, being able to develop operations depending on a specific threat and scenario. The combination of different capacities in a common platform allows the Navies to cover different missions with the same unit.

Navantia’s latest support ships under construction are the AOR type vessels for the Australian Navy. The first unit left Spain in September 2020, and after being commissioned to the Royal Australian Navy, has already arrived at her homeport in Sydney. The second ship will follow within the first half of 2021. The ships are intended to carry fuel, dry cargo, water, food, ammunition, equipment and spare parts to provide operational support for the deployed naval or combat forces operating far from the port on the high seas for longer periods. They are specially suitable for operation with the Canberra-Class vessels built by Navantia for Australia.

The experience with these type of ships, which follow the trail of other similar units in the Spanish Navy (BAC Cantabria and Patiño), and the experience in LPD and LHD ships, have evolved into the design of multi-purpose support vessels that combine the amphibious and replenishment capacities (i.e. Joint Support Ships, JSS) and also Logistic Support Vessels (LSV) which encompass bulk transport (liquid, solid and goods) with RORO and ROLO capacity and multi-mission spaces that can be used for the purpose of different missions and tasks.

Finally, Navantia and BMT have been associated for the design of very special ships such as the Fleet Solid Support (FSS) for the UK, assuring commonality with existing vessels in operation by the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. This is a quite a unique vessel, designed to maximise the capability and sustainability of the QEC and Carrier Strike Group, including supporting and re-provisioning of ships such as the Type 45 and Tide Class.

We have seen the industry come together in recent years through joint collaborations with local & indigenous partners throughout the world, how does Navantia see the role of technology transfer when working on future programmes and tenders?

Navantia is currently investing more than 10% of it’s yearly incomes in the next generation of digitally-enabled shipyards. This investment in digital connectivity, cybersecurity, robotics, digital twinning and digital logistics will increase productivity by 20% by: Increasing efficiency and consistency in the production process, improving connectivity between, people, products and machines, providing lead indicators for production through increased use of sensors and data mining, and enabling earlier and more detailed planning of the production process.

In Navantia we are very open to activities that contribute to the creation of new industries, develop capacities, and the progressive acquisition of industrial skills by shipyards around the globe, and has taken different forms depending on the Client requirements and local capacity.

We hold a good reputation for the openness with our customers to this respect. A good example of Navantia’s flexibility are the ToT and localization programs developed for 3 very different scenarios within the last 12 months; Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Australia.

ToT in high tech areas- In Saudi Arabia, Navantia created a Joint Venture with SAMI (Saudi Military Industries) to develop, integrate and commercialize the first Saudi Combat System, known as HAZEM, an evolution from Navantia’s CATIZ combat system. The newly created Company, called SAMINavantia, received from Navantia in September 2019 a very relevant contract for the supply and integration  of the combat system of five corvettes for the Royal Saudi Naval Force.

ToT for construction – In the United Kingdom, Navantia has partnered with Harland & Wolff, the Belfast shipyard creating “Team Resolute”, by which it is intended to re-establish work skills and shipbuilding in Northern Ireland, strengthening the UK’s sovereign shipbuilding capability and economic prosperity. Transfer of Navantia’s digital shipyard knowledge to Harland & Wolff will support the modernisation and availability of this UK sovereign asset for a particular project, and beyond, as both shipyards have already started cooperation in other Defence projects and offshore wind foundations and substations.

ToT for through life support – In Australia, Navantia signed a Strategic Agreement with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) towards the establishment of a digital ship as a means to enhance the service level for four classes of ships designed by Navantia for the RAN. Through such an agreement, Australia will have greater ability to incorporate local technologies into existing ships, providing global export access opportunities for Australian companies. The local development and management of Navantia ship designs offers substantial opportunities for the Australian industry

Other cooperation schemes include the provision of design information and support during construction to the required level, as we did in Australia for the Air Warfare Destroyers, or nowadays in Turkey for the LHDs.

ToT is every day more common, and we are currently offering such service to different customers around the globe: in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Greece, Peru, Argentina, etc.

The role of shipbuilding is fundamental to a timely delivery, especially for an advanced innovative vessel, how does Navantia keep up with the latest trends in this area to provide the best technology for up to date naval vessels?

Navantia is making a huge effort towards the modernization of the facilities and the work methods to enable shipyard 4.0 technologies

Navantia’s 4.0 business model is based on offering to our clients a wide range of services based on latest technologies for better solving their needs. 4.0 technologies are applied to four areas branded as ‘Smart’ by Navantia: Smart Shipyard, Smart Ships, Smart Sustainment and Smart Naval Base. Such services are developed based on 14 enabling technologies: artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, drones, 3D manufacturing, new materials, bid data analytics, Internet of Things, Blockchain, modelling and simulation, cloud storage, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), augmented reality and 5G

Under the category of Smart Shipyard, Navantia implements work flow simulators, robotic welding, use of drones and autonomous vehicles, robotic process automation, the use of virtual reality tools in workshops and connected supply chain

Smart Ship services include products with smart capabilities. Special focus on Digital Twin and Integrated Services Systems (ISS), leveraging information from Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS). Other technologies as 3D printing on board are also being applied.

The Smart Naval Base services include Through Life Support Facilities (TLSF) and Land Based Test Sites (LBTS), consisting in supporting testing of software and hardware of any platform system connected to Navantia’s IPMS for upkeep, upgrades and updates, the Navantia “navantis” training system and the through life support tools.

Smart Sustainment to provide the best support to our ships to maximize quality days at sea at an affordable cost of operation and maintenance by leveraging digital technologies.

Further information and resources:-

Frigate F100:


Submarino S73: