This story was first published in French language by Mer et Marine
Production phase of the ship was officially launched on April 19 during a visit of the French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, whose involvement was decisive to allow this order to succeed. This contract was also crucial to maintain Piriou planned workload.
The Argentine Navy OPV program came into effect on February 14th 2019 and is being carried out by Kership, a joint company formed by Piriou and Naval Group. Naval Group’s Lanester shipyard, at which all activity was put “on hold” a year and a half ago, will be soon reactivated: The plant will produce the hull of the second OPV for Argentina. As for the third, the yard where it will be built is yet to be selected. It will depend on Piriou, Kership and Naval Group’s workload, as all their sites located in Brittany have busy backlogs for the coming years.
The 38-month contract signed with Argentina will see the delivery of new OPVs between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2022. Regarding the L’Adroit OPV, produced by Naval Group on its own funds and used by the French Navy from 2011 to 2018, the vessel should be delivered by the end of the year after an overhaul and upgrade phase.
In addition to these 87 meters long and 1,650 tons vessels, Concarneau (Piriou) and Lanester (Naval Group) shipyards plan to produce 12 new Mine Countermeasure ships under a contract won with the Belgian and Dutch navies by Naval Group and ECA Robotics, bidding through the Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR) consortium. Awarded on March 15, this contract is currently frozen due to a complaint lodged by one of the two others competitors. The Belgian Council of State’s answer on this topic is expected around mid-May.
Once formalized, the contract calls for the delivery of 12 80 meters-long 3,000 tons vessels between 2023 and 2030. While an extension with the future French program (four to six ships) is hoped, Kership is also positioning for the French Navy patrol boats renewal program. A model of its OPV 75 was soundly highlighted during the French Minister visit at Kership’s office.
The Piriou-Naval Group joint venture is also competing or in discussion with several customers on other potential contracts, for new units or used ones: The sale of the former French Navy P400 patrol ship La Tapageuse, overhauled in 2015 by Piriou, and which could be taken over by a West African navy.
In the meantime, Piriou in Concarneau, which employs 350 people outside sub-contracting, is therefore focusing on Argentine OPVs, as well as on 100% Piriou-lead contracts, which include rebuilding the hull of the Bel Espoir sailboat and producing a cargo barge for a Caribbean customer. Added to this is the maintenance activity of Piriou Naval Services, including, currently, technical stops for fishing boats, a French Navy tugboat and the Thémis maritime patrol boat.