PARIS — Franco-Italian partners Naval Group and Fincantieri filed their joint offer in a frigate tender directly to Canada‘s defense ministry, rather than submitting the bid to prime contractor Irving Shipbuilding, a spokesman for the French company said Monday.

“The bid was outside the competition procedure, it was a spontaneous offer,” the spokesman told Defense News. The competition rules called for offers to be submitted to Irving.

The two companies submitted their Nov. 30 offer of the FREMM multimission frigate to the ministry, part of a strategy to protect intellectual property rights on the technology, the spokesman said.

That unusual approach included an offer of fast delivery, with the first ship handed over in fall 2019 if the joint bid were accepted next year, the spokesman said.

Fincantieri and Naval Group have offered a fixed price of CAD$30 billion (U.S. $24 billion) for the 15 vessels in the Canadian Surface Combatant program, compared to CAN$62 billion estimated by the Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer, National Post reported.

That direct offer to the government was the two European companies’ attempt to overcome a perceived preference by Irving for BAE Systems’ offer of the Type 26 frigate, business website La Tribune reported.

BAE has partnered with Lockheed Martin for an offer of the Type 26, which is being built for the British Navy.

The concerns over intellectual property protection stem from the competition rules requiring bidders to submit sensitive information on technology to Irving, which draws heavily on American and British advisers, La Tribune reported.