Netherlands has awarded Naval Group the contract to build four new submarines that will succeed the Walrus-class vessel in the Replacement Netherlands Submarine Capability project, announced 15 March. The names of the new submarines are HNLMS Orka, HNLMS Zwaardvis, HNLMS Barracuda, and HNLMS Tijgerhaai.

The Barracuda family of submarines are used in missions that include anti-surface and fast deep anti-submarine warfare, land attack using stealthy long-range cruise missiles, surveillance and intelligence gathering, crisis management and special operations.

The new Barracuda-class submarines will offer considerable improvements for the capabilities of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN), offering the rare combination of a vessel that is small enough to operate in shallow waters, while still being large enough to operate independently in distant waters for extended periods of time. For this combination of qualities, states the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, the submarine is highly regarded by Nato, with Naval Group separately also highlighting the strategic autonomy requirement as a key factor within the project.

Naval Group will provide the first two Barracuda-class submarines within 10 years of the signing of the delivery contract, with the two of the four remaining Walrus-class submarines to be phased out in the mid-2030s.

The Barracuda-class submarines offer a host of advances on its predecessors, including lifting the strike power of the Netherlands armed forces by the inclusion of cruise missile launchers. Advances in sensor and communications systems will prepare eh vessels for a greater role in intelligence gathering, and the vastly improved battery capacity will allow the boats to remain submerged for longer and operate without raising a snorkel to run the diesel engines that would recharge the batteries. 

The decision follows months of tender evaluations by the Ministry of defence, and the evaluation of Industrial Coordination Agreements (ICA) by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs to assess which shipyard would give the greatest contribution to the 1,000 companies that make up Netherland’s defence and security-related Technological and Industrial Base.

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Following the singing of a Memorandum of Understanding by France and Netherlands governments, the nations have an agreement for rights of use, knowledge sharing and information security. A statement issued through France’s Ministry of Defence welcomed the bilateral relationship and praised the selection of the Barracuda-class submarines as strengthening European and Nato Capabilities.