First SIGMA class frigate transferred to the Royal Moroccan Navy


The SIGMA class frigate Tarik ben Ziyad was yesterday transferred to the Royal Moroccan Navy after completing sea trials and outfitting.

The SIGMA (Ship Integrated Geometrical Modularity Approach) frigate, built by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) in Vlissingen, the Netherlands, was handed over to Rear Admiral Mohamed Laghmari, the Commander in Chief of the Royal Moroccan Navy on time and on schedule.

After commissioning, the crew will continue with another three weeks of Sail Safety Training in Den Helder and the North Sea. This training will be conducted by training teams of the Royal Netherlands Navy, DSNS has announced.

At the end of September, after conclusion of this training period, the Tarik ben Ziyad will start her maiden voyage to Morocco.

The Royal Moroccan Navy placed an order for three SIGMA frigates in April 2008. The contract includes one SIGMA 10513 ship 105 metres long (pennant number 613), with delivery after 44 months, and two SIGMA 9813 ships 98 metres long (pennant numbers 614, 615), delivery 50 and 56 months after signature, all with commonality in the systematic arrangement including a state of the art Tacticos combat management system with antisubmarine, surface warfare, air defence and electronic warfare capabilities.

Electronic systems include a Smart-S Mk2 surveillance radar, a LIROD Mk 2 tracking radar, a Thales Kingklip sonar system, an IFF system, an integrated communication system comprising external communication system and FOCON internal communication subsystem, two target designation sights, a VIGILE ESM system, a SCORPION ECM system and an integrated navigation system.

The shipyard notes the vessels will be fitted with a 76 mm Oto Melara main gun, as well as MBDA Exocet surface-to-surface and MICA surface-to-air missile system, the latter using vertical launch.

The frigates will further have flight decks and hangar accommodation for a medium-sized helicopter and will be fitted with Eurotorp torpedo launchers.

Ship 613 was launched in July last year. Frigate 614 was launched in February and will undergo sea trials at year’ end, while vessel 615 will launch at the Damen yard in Vlissingen next month. Morocco’s first frigate completed sea acceptance trials in the North Sea on May 20.

In addition, Morocco has on order a French “FREMM” multipurpose frigate, scheduled for delivery next year. The current fleet includes two Floréal-class frigates and a Descubierta-class corvette in addition to some 21 patrol craft and a number of other ships and vessels. Four more patrol craft are also on order.

Morocco is in the process of upgrading its armed forces and is buying large amounts of military equipment, including 24 Hawker Beechcraft T-6C Texan II turboprop trainers to replace its Beechcraft T-34 Mentor and Cessna T-37 Tweets.

Last month the Royal Moroccan Air Force took delivery of the first of 24 Block 52 F-16 Fighting Falcons from Lockheed Martin, fitted with Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 Enhanced Engine Package engines and Raytheon ACES electronic warfare suites.

In July last year Alenia Aeronautica delivered the first of four C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, which were ordered in October 2008.