BUCHAREST, Romania --- The Romanian Government has ordered four Sigma class light frigates for the Romanian Navy at a cost of $1.1 billion. The new ships will be built under license at the Damen Shipyards in Galati.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Defense in Bucharest, "The project provides for the purchase of four corvettes multirole with a minimum lifespan of 30 years which can be extended by successive upgrades. Vessels to be acquired will be used for military actions, independently or within multinational groups, ensure the integrity of the maritime space, participation in enforcing compliance to national and international execution of operations of maritime security and interventions for search and rescue." This is a fairly standard role definition for ships of this type.
Initially, the Romanian Ministry of Defence studied a total of 13 projects for light frigates, of which only four met the requirements specified by the Romanian naval forces. The final selection was determined by the MND officials that the ships had to be built in Romanian yards and that the first ship should be delivered in two and a half years.
The only yard that could handle this project was the Damen yard that has been re-equipped to handle modern warship construction and had recruited enough qualified staff wfamiliar with NATO production standards and equipment. Of the bidders for this contract, only the OANDA group, offering the SIGMA class frigate, was prepared to guarantee meeting the required delivery date.
Total cost of the project is RON4.3 billion, ($1.1 billion) payable in installments up to 2020. Payments of RON562 million ($131 million) will be made in 2017 and 2018 with a further payment of RON1.215 billion ($285.3 million) on delivery of the first ship. Additional payments of RON1.26 billion ($295 million) will be made in 2019 with the final payment of RON720 million ($169 million) taking place in 2020.
The price of these four ships is a bit above the norm for light frigates in this category but the requirement for production in Romanian yards and the very tight delivery schedule justified the costs involved.
Defense Minister Mihnea Motoc stated that the short delivery time was an essential requirement because "the wider Black Sea is characterized by the actions in violation of the rules of international law and this requires a robust deterrent posture in the Black Sea."