Interview with Ferretti Security & Defence
Which country built the fastest boats in the world? -> Italy, and then Ferretti Security & Defence (FSD), I was surprised to learn from Andrea Ameli, the company’s Operations Director. The company has been on top of those yards in Italy that invented in the fast boat market, said Ameli. At Euronaval 2016, FSD, the new security & defence division of Ferretti Group, presented its first model launched this summer, a 20m long fast patrol vessel named FSD195, offering a range of over 925km (500nm) and an average speed of over 50 knots. According to FSD, the new patrol vessel has demonstrated significant reliability and seakeeping immediately after its launch, while sailing from Cattolica to La Spezia, covering 2,037km (1,100nm) in total operating efficiency despite frequent severe weather and sea conditions.
Between 2000 and the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, the group was the Number One in the world’s luxury market. At the end of 2014, Ferretti Group established the FSD division, to promote fast and high-speed patrol craft and boats for the military, with the fastest achieving no less than 48 knots. The new division is the result of an investment of the Group in order to diversify its business activities in the yachting industry. Thus, Ferretti Group has decided to give birth to FSD that meets the growing demand for innovative vessels equipped with advanced performance and technological systems, designed to satisfy all security and defence necessities in every operating scenario.
Over the past 40 years, Ferretti Group produced more than 10,000 hulls. “After marketing analysis, we were able to face the market’s different needs, and now, our range of products varies from 12m to 35m/38m boats. We are now one of the companies which has a strong know-how in this field, and we are the strongest entity within the Ferretti Group of companies.”
Ameli suggested to Mönch that FSD now owns six shipyards across Italy, one inland, and the other on the Mediterranean coast and on the Adriatic coast. “[With these assets], the group is so well-positioned in industry, and with these [manufacturing sites] on hand, we can produce ‘packages’, starting from prototyping to production.” These packages, according to Ameli, can be placed at every yard. “Where we have the space and manpower, we can produce the boat.”
Ameli recognised that FSD is working closely with academia, to gather the expertise from young, creative engineers. As a result, FSD has seen a strong need to include their deep knowledge in its design work and prototyping.
Ameli stated that FSD does have a strong commitment to both military and non-military customers. He found that integrating sub-systems on-board FSD fast craft is a central element of the company’s advanced business culture. FSD describes the integration of weapon systems like remote-controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and cannons, sensors, and navigation aids as an issue that is more and more considered by its customers, including military police and Customs. Sensors can be used on-board our fast boats to control the weapons, according to Ameli. He added that the company was fast on the market, to offer such solutions to a wide array of potential customers. “This is done at an acceptable price, offering cost-saving effects for them.” FSD’s agenda is designed to help save money on the customer side. FSD can produce the boats within less than five months, using a “good deal” of COTS (Commercial-off-the-Shelf) products. “That makes us very competitive on the market, with absolutely reliable products.”
FSD is also seeking to develop its agenda to demonstrate to customers how Research & Development (R&D), at-sea testing, and qualification can be accomplished in the shortest possible time. “We got very positive feedbacks from customers over these procedures”, Ameli noted. During the past four decades, FSD, thanks to a gradual increase of R&D, took advantage of the increasing use of high-tech materials – composites, Kevlar, carbon fibres – in boat construction. “We adapt what we have to respond to customer needs.” Lightweight is of premier importance, according to Ameli. During this period, FSD developed more than 400 different hull forms, including a trimaran hull. Ameli pointed out that other than with the ‘big ships’, FSD can easily adapt to bidding processes, developing a concept within six months, including cost calculations. Ameli sees an opportunity to move his organisation further forward. “With this approach, you can produce a prototype long before the end of the tender.”
Dealing with worldwide customer needs, FSD sees much marketing potential in South America. “Here, our fast boats and craft are deemed perfectly suited for operating on rivers and lakes”, Ameli underlined. Potential customers in this region might be dedicated to the high speed of FSD’s products (not less than 46 knots) and the capacity to embark sub-systems like weapon systems. “This is the most crucial aspect when addressing the South American market. You can add capable weapons to the boats, including [RCWS] or anti-ship missiles.” Ameli informed Mönch that FSD is in direct talks with MBDA to prepare a test installation for two MARTE Mk2 missile launchers. Mönch also understands that boats of the FSD family (FSD235/350) can be fitted with Leonardo’s HITROLE 12.7mm and 20mm cannons. “So, you can have some sort of a fast attack boat like this for [defensive] strike missions in coastal waters. You can launch the missile at a distance of 30km and return to your base.”