Notwithstanding the stop of Fincantieri activities in 2020 due to the pandemic in the first half of the year and the progressive return to full production in full compliance with anti-contagion requirements in the second half, according to Fincantieri press statements issued at the main ships events for the Qatari Ministry of Defence, the first of class Al Zubarah corvette (F 101) will be delivered this year while the first-of-class Musherib (Q 61) OPV (Offshore Patrol Vessel) will follow in 2022.
As the education, training and qualification of the QNEF crews by Italian Navy and industries was part of the package within the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cooperation in the naval sector signed between the Qatar and Italian Ministers of Defence in June 2016 and subsequent contract with Fincantieri and technical agreements between the two Navies, according to the reported crew training and qualification scheme for the Qatar programme, the ships are expected to be delivered in Italy to the Qatar Ministry of Defence and Qatar Naval Emiri Forces (QNEF) and after completion of training and certification with Italian Navy support, to reach the Arabian/Persian Gulf region country.
According to Fincantieri press statement released on occasion of the technical launch of the Damsah (F 102) second Al Zubarah-class corvette, the latter is expected to be delivered in 2022, together with the two Musherib-class OPVs which were launched respectively in September 2020 and last June. No indication has been provided when the under-construction third Al Zubarah-class corvette, – which name hasn’t been released -, will be delivered, while the fourth ship of the class will follow in 2023.
Last 5 June with a triple event for the Qatar MoD shipbuilding programme, in addition to the technical launch of the second-of-class Sheraouh (Q 62) OPV, a steel cutting ceremony was also attained at Fincantieri Riva Trigoso shipyard for the landing platform dock (LPD) with air defence early warning, command and control capabilities.
With the shipbuilding programme for the Qatar MoD at full development, the focus is now toward education and training of the crews and base maintainers. In addition to the seven ships delivery, the €3.8 billion contract between Qatar MoD and Fincantieri, according to the information released during DIMDEX 2018, also includes a robust integrated logistic support, long-term in-service support and extensive education and training package in addition to a comprehensive training center in Qatar.
Based on the three technical agreements signed between the two services in February 2017, Italian Navy is providing education and training for the crews of the QNEF ships and base maintainers as well as technical support training during the shipbuilding, acceptance and post-delivery phases. The whole range of institutions, schools and centers of the Italian Navy for the education and training of officers, non-commissioned officers and the rest of the personnel are involved in the programme. The first batch of trainees begun the first education phase in Qatar in 2018, in accordance with the ship deliveries programme, although these activities should have been suffering for the pandemic in 2020. The ceremony held last 5 June for the opening of the Halul 1 training center at La Spezia to host the on-the-job training for the crews of all vessels for the QNEF is showing evidence of the ramping-up of activities.