Naval Warfare

COVID-19 impact delays INS Magen delivery

20th May 2020 - 15:30 GMT | by Joe Charlaff in Jerusalem


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Delivery of the first of four Sa’ar 6 corvettes for the Israeli Navy is being delayed by the industrial impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The Israeli MoD ordered the new vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) for EUR430 million in January 2015 and first steel was cut in February 2018.

Hulls and superstructures of the four vessels are being built by TKMS and German Naval Yards Kiel (GNYK), with integration of combat systems, sensors and subsystems to take place in Israel. 

The first-in-class ship was officially named INS Magen in a commissioning ceremony on 23 May 2019 and it began sea trials on 10 March this year.

Magen was originally planned to sail to Israel in late 2019. ‘In light of the spread of the [COVID-19] coronavirus around the world, which impacted the Sa’ar 6 project, the INS Magen is expected to arrive in Israel later in 2020,’ the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit explained.

GNYK temporarily closed parts of its shipyard after the outbreak and applied to the German government for short-time working from 1 April. ‘This applies in particular to production workshops, as well as to work on and in the ships,’ a senior company official told Shephard.

‘The worldwide spread of the coronavirus with its dynamic course of infection as an event of force majeure also poses an enormous challenge for the shipyard in coping with the crisis,’ the official added, saying that 'supply chains were interrupted and the availability of personnel was limited'.

GNYK had hoped to return to operations after 20 April in line with German federal government policy but production in areas affected by the COVID-related disruption only resumed on 4 May. 'Implementation and information of our sub-contractors in this regard took (as expected) indeed more time than to shut down production,' the company official explained.

All four Sa’ar 6 vessels (Magen, Oz, Independence, and Victory) were planned to enter service in 2020-2022 after the installation of Israeli armament and electronic equipment. However, the aforementioned disruption could cause this timetable to slip.

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