The Metal Structure Fabrication Unit (UFEM), an important part of the Submarine Development Program (Prosub), was inaugurated by President Dilma Rousseff on March 1, in Itaguaí (in the state of Rio de Janeiro). The delivery of the unit, the construction of which began three years ago, is the first part of the infrastructure that will enable the country to build and maintain conventional and nuclear-powered submarines in the national territory.
Started by the Navy in 2008, Prosub is the result of cooperation between Brazil and France and provides for the manufacture of five submarines. Four of these will be conventional, diesel-electric powered submarines and one will be nuclear-powered, implementing entirely national technology.
In addition to equipping the country with greater military capacity to monitor its ocean waters, the program will strengthen the Brazilian shipbuilding industry, generating 9,000 direct jobs and a further 32,000 indirect jobs. The investment, which includes the construction phase of UFEM, the shipyard and the naval base that will house the submarines, will total R$ 7.8 billion, with outlays until 2017.
Construction of the submarines
The start of operations in UFEM will enable Brazilian technicians, who received prior training in France, to apply their knowledge in the construction process. This began with the symbolic cutting of the first steel plate, intended to form part of the hull, on July 16, 2011. On the occasion, President Dilma Rousseff powered up the equipment which started work on the plate.
The shipyard is expected to be completed by December 2014 and the naval base is scheduled for 2017. Fabrication of the first of four conventional submarines will be completed in 2015, to be delivered for operation in 2017. The remaining three conventional submarines will be delivered at 18-month intervals. The first nuclear-powered submarine will be ready in 2023 and will then undergo sea trials for approximately two years before going into operation.
Around 2,000 direct jobs and 8,000 permanent indirect jobs are expected to be created in the shipbuilding industry during the submarine construction period. In addition, Prosub implements a nationalization process based on technology transfer which provides for the manufacturing of a range of equipment for conventional and nuclear submarines in Brazil. This will raise the level of technological know-how in Brazilian companies and enable the creation of more jobs.
Very few countries dominate the construction and operation of nuclear-powered submarines, which are developed with highly sensitive technology. Currently, only China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia hold this technological expertise. With Prosub, Brazil will now join this select group.
Naval Today Staff, March 4, 2013