Patrick Boissier, the new boss of DCNS, the French military shipyard, yesterday announced extremely ambitious targets for the company over the next decade: growth of between 50% to 100% and a 30% improvement in performance.
But it's what he didn't announce and that several journalists present tried unsuccessfully to get him to say which is interesting: DCNS has offered to lend (or rent?), a prototype of the Gowind ocean patrol vessel that the company would build with its own money.
Colleagues chatting after the press conference – Boissier's first since his appointment in January 2009 – told me they knew the navy had received such an offer and were surprised he had evaded the issue. Industry sources say: “DCNS has proposed to the French Navy from 2012 the deployment within its fleet of a prototype of the new range of Gowind ocean patrol vessels that the company will build with its own funds. The demonstration of the operational capabilities of this ship in a first rank navy will deliver a significant competitive advantage in international marketing.”
However, when questioned on the possibility of a public-private partnership at the press conference yesterday Boissier answered: "We are studying the ways which would allow us to have a sea-proven ship. There is no question of a PPP [public-private partnership] whatsoever." Earlier he had stated that "For the Gowind, one of the possible applications is Batsimar [Bâtiment de surveillance et intervention maritime], which as you know is in the second [military budget law], from 2012. We hope to have a "sea-proven" product to show to the Navy at that time."
In his earlier remarks he had made it clear that having a “sea-proven” ship to offer was always preferable, but this was in the context of exports. Perhaps he's also hoping that once the Gowind is being used by the French navy it will encourage the Bulgarians to finalise their contract for four which has been shelved for the time being.
See my other post if you'd like to know how Boissier intends to double DCNS' growth.