Spain officially joins European Patrol Corvette (EPC) program

Spain’s application to participate in the EPC program has been officially approved, announced on 11th May. According to the defence experts, Spain’s application for the France-Italy led program was a bit surprising because they have Meteoro-class offshore patrol vessels built by Navantia, but for sure, it’s not a corvette.

Greece has already joined the EPC program, Bulgaria and Portugal are considering to join.

The project is one of many being supported by an EU initiative called “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO) that is to be supported by the entire EU community. It sounds like this may be heading toward a shipbuilding version of Airbus.

The European Patrol Corvette (EPC) program aims to design and develop a prototype of a reduced-capacity combatant with a displacement of 3,000 tons, a draft of less than five meters and a modular approach, based on different configurations.

Navantia has had contacts at the industrial level since the beginning of the year to enter the program with the Fincantieri -Italy- and Naval Group -France- shipyards, respectively. These two shipbuilders have recently created a joint venture, Naviris, which would be launched with this project.

Fincantieri and Naval Group are the main contractors, with the coordinator being the first. The goal is for this to be the first Naviris project, which will also carry out R&D projects financed by the respective Defense Ministers of Italy and France.

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Inforgraphic of the possible design

There are three possible configurations;

  • a corvette optimized in anti-submarine warfare,
  • a light frigate with anti-air and anti-submarine capabilities
  • Offshore patrol vessel

The ship will have a displacement of 3,000t, a draft of less than 5m and the design will allow adjustments to meet different requirements.

The project is supported by the navies of France and Italy. The French Navy intends to replace six ships of the Floreal class and the Italian Navy wants to replace eight ships – four of the Cassiopeia class and four of the Commander class. France plans to build nine or eleven ships while Italy intends to build eight. The first class would be Italian, with a date of entry into service in 2027. While the first of the French variant is aimed to be delivered in 2030.

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First corvette is aimed to be delivered to the Italian Navy in 2027