Ciolacu buries Dăncilă's corvettes: the Naval Forces remain without battleships

George Marinescu
English Section / 15 martie

Ciolacu buries Dăncilă's corvettes: the Naval Forces remain without battleships

Versiunea în limba română

In yesterday's meeting, the Ciolacu government repealed HG 48/2018 regarding the multifunctional corvette program through which the Romanian Naval Forces should have been endowed with four marine corvettes and through which the maintenance of the two frigates of the navy's equipment would be carried out.

In the substantiation note of the normative act it is stated: "On 01.07.2019 the report of the specific procedure for awarding the framework agreement for the supply of the multifunctional Corvette product was approved, the Association between Naval Group (France) and SC Şantierul Naval Constanţa SA being declared the winner . In the period 01.07.2019- 16.07.2023, the evaluation committee initiated discussions with the Association between Naval Group and Constanţa Naval Shipyard, in order to establish the terms and conditions of the framework agreement, in order to sign it, inviting the association to sign the framework agreement and the first contract subsequently. On 16.07.2023, as a result of the refusal of the bidder designated as the winner to respond to the invitation to sign the framework agreement and the subsequent contract, it was found that the entity declared the winner does not maintain its bid. Considering the failure to maintain the offer by the entity declared the winner and the lack of funds necessary to continue the procedure by initiating discussions with the participants ranked 2nd or 3rd, the contracting authority proceeded to cancel the procedure, in accordance with the provisions of section BII".

Practically, the members of the Ciolacu Cabinet initialed the failure initiated by the PSD regarding the endowment of the Romanian Naval Forces with four corvettes, a failure managed in turn by Liviu Dragnea and his subordinate Viorica Dăncilă, by the former Ministers of Defense - Beniamin Leş, Mihai Fifor and Vasile Dîncu, by the current Minister of Defense - Angel Tîlvăr, but also by the governments of Ludovic Orban, Florin Cîţu and Nicolae Ciucă, the last being Minister of Defense in the two previous governments.

The story begins in 2016 when the former technocrat government led by the current MEP Dacian Cioloş concluded a contract with the Dutch shipyard Damen from Galati for the construction of four state-of-the-art multi-role corvettes, at a cost of approximately 1.6 billion euros (including VAT ). In addition to the SIGMA 10514 type combat ships, Romania would also receive the related missiles, logistical support and crew training. Since 2007, the CSAT had categorized the "Multifunctional Corvette" endowment program as being of strategic importance for Romania, and things came to a head after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Although everything was ready for Galaţi navies to build the four corvettes, following the parliamentary elections in December 2016, PSD president Liviu Dragnea decided that the government decision approved by the Cioloş Cabinet is illegal and that the purchase must be approved by Parliament because it exceeds 100 million euros.

At the end of 2017, the PSD-ALDE-Pro Romania-UDMR majority in the joint defense, national security and public order committees of the Parliament approved the acquisition and established that the said contract will not be awarded directly to the Damen Naval Shipyard in Galati, which had a rich experience in building military ships for several European countries, but also for third countries such as Mexico and Pakistan, but the Government will initiate a new public procurement procedure in which several competitors can participate.

Thus, in 2018, the government led by Viorica Dăncilă approved GD 48, repealed yesterday by the Ciolacu government, a decision by which the endowment procedure was resumed, and following the purchase it was established that the offer with the lowest price - 1.2 billion euro - submitted by the French company Naval Group and Constanţa Naval Shipyard is the winning bid, the French following, according to the announcement made on July 1, 2019 by the tender committee of the Ministry of National Defense, to deliver the Gowind 2500 corvette model that has already been sold to the Romanian Naval Forces the armed forces of Egypt, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

We note that the respective procurement procedure was marked by problems, after in January 2019 the auction of the corvettes was blocked by a newly dismissed state secretary who notified the Military Prosecutor's Office regarding suspicions that the procedure was carried out illegally. The respective file that was brought to the attention of the military prosecutors resulted in the non-initiation of the criminal prosecution, as we showed in the Bursa Newspaper.

Immediately after the award of the contract to Naval Group, the Dutch from Damen and the Italian from Fincanteri challenged the award decision, Damen even went to court, where the decisions were unfavorable to them. However, the main problem was that after the award of the contract to the French, MapN and Naval Group did not agree on signing the contract, although they negotiated continuously from July 2019 until July 16, 2023, when the Ministry came to the conclusion that the French do not maintain their price offer from the procurement procedure.

Regarding this, Angel Tîlvăr, the Minister of Defense said: "The program was interrupted by us for reasons not attributable to the Ministry of National Defense. It was a contractual relationship between a company from an allied country and a company from Romania. The contract did not develop within the parameters that we expected, which is why this was interrupted".

Practically, through the repeal approved yesterday by the Government, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu became a kind of Pilate who washes his hands of a pestilential business, in which he was not directly involved, but indirectly through certain party colleagues.

Unfortunately, the Romanian Naval Forces remain with old vessels, with the two frigates for which maintenance is necessary, and from the MApN or the PSD we have no culprit held accountable. Not even the heads of the Armaments Department within the MApN or those in the procurement committee that awarded the respective contract to Naval Group.

It is the second major failure regarding the endowment of the Romanian Army, a failure for which no one is responsible, after the previous one, from the 2017-2018 period at the Moreni Automecanica Plant where the Germans from Rheinmetall withdrew from the project regarding the construction of the Agilis armored transport, due to the lack of financial involvement of the Romanian state.

During this time, the Russian Federation started a war near Romania's borders.

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