Seven companies have confirmed that they will bid to build two multi-purpose patrol vessels for Bulgaria’s Navy, Rear Admiral Mitko Petev, the Navy Commander, said on November 13.
Bulgarian National Radio reported Petev as saying that two of the firms were from Germany, and one each from Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Bulgaria.
Petev said that the offers from the firms were expected by February 15 2019. By April 5, at the latest, an interdepartmental working group should propose which offer was the most advantageous for Bulgaria. A shipbuilding contract must be signed by May 31, he said.
In July, Parliament voted in favour of the shipbuilding project, approving an update of a previous version.
The project envisages that the new Bulgarian Navy patrol vessels, which will be multi-functional with helipads, will replace three ageing vessels – the frigate Smeli and the corvettes Verni and Reshitelni.
The project, envisaging spending of close to a billion leva, was supported in the 240-seat Bulgarian Parliament with 135 votes in favour, nine against and one abstention. The only parliamentary group to oppose the project was the Bulgarian Parliament’s smallest, the populist Volya party.
In December 2017, Bulgaria’s plans of the time to have two new Navy patrol vessels built suffered a retreat, when Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov announced that the only bidder for the 820 million leva (about 419 million euro) contract had pulled out.
The decision by the Varna-based MTG Dolphin Shipyard came just days before the end-of-2018 deadline for the finalisation of the contract.
Karakachanov said at the time that the “real reason” for the decision was the decrease in the value of the contract – because of recent amendments to the Bulgarian military procurement law, which would have meant that such purchases would have to include a value added tax, the shipyard would have had effectively to pay back 20 per cent of the 820 million leva in tax.
(Photo, of the Verni firing a missile during an exercise in 2017: Bulgarian Ministry of Defence)