An Avante 1400 offshore patrol boat currently being built by Spain’s shipbuilder Navantia for the Royal Moroccan Navy is the latest victim of the diplomatic spat between both countries.
Navantia began building the Avante 1400 OPV in Spain in January 2021, but it has since experienced some setbacks due to strained diplomatic relations between Spain and Morocco following Spain’s decision to host Polisario leader Brahim Ghali in 2021 for hospitalization.
However, government officials have confirmed the manufacturing of the boat is now moving at a “good pace.”
Three years ago, Navantia announced that it was set to deliver two Avante class offshore patrol vessels to Morocco, and that the two vessels would cost around 260 million euros, including a maintenance agreement.
At the time, a team from Navatia went to Morocco to negotiate the technical and commercial aspects. Since then, both parties have been ironing out the technical specifications of the new ship to Morocco’s requirements and to fulfill the roadmap agreed in the negotiation.
A year later, Morocco awarded a contract to Navatia to design a new offshore patrol vessel for its naval force. The design will be based on the Avante 1400 OPV, a littoral patrol vessel with a full load displacement of 1,500t and capable of 4,000nm range.
Rabat has received 92 million euros from Santander bank to progress with the manufacturing of the boat.
Morocco signed the agreement with Santander Bank on 31 August, 2022 to finance the commercial agreement between the National Defence Administration and Navantia.
Spain’s far-right political party Vox questioned the Spanish Congress of Deputies to determine the current manufacturing stage of the Avante 1800 boats.
In an ambiguous response, the government replied: “The contract is in force.”
The statement added that Avante 1400 has “undergone its contractual obligations,” and that the ship has “begun the process of acquiring its main equipment.”
Rabat’s OPV design will be similar to the Buque de Vigilancia de Litoral (BVL) ordered along with four POVZEE / Avante 2200 Combatants by the Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela back in 2005. The Avante 1400 class OPV can accommodate a crew complement of 35 sailors, and according to Navatia, will represent one million hours of work for the shipyard and 250 jobs over the next three and a half years as design and construction commences.
Armament will comprise 76 mm and 35 mm cannons as well as 12.7 mm machineguns. Helicopters and small boats will be able to operate off the aft deck.
The ships are able to carry out a wide variety of missions such as coastal surveillance and protection, protection of maritime traffic, health assistance to other ships, external firefighting, the fight and control of marine pollution, transport of personnel and provisions, search and rescue operations, rapid intervention, frogmen support, surface defence and passive electronic warfare.