The Netherlands Ministry of Defence (MoD) has initiated the process to acquire four new submarines, inviting three renowned shipyardsNaval Group, Saab Kockums, and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems – to submit their tenders by July 28, 2023. 

State Secretary for Defence Christophe van der Maat detailed the evaluation process and emphasised the significance of these submarines in shaping the Navy’s future capabilities.

In a letter addressed to the House of Representatives, State Secretary for Defence Christophe van der Maat provided insights into the award process for the Netherlands’ upcoming submarine contract. 

Walrus-class replacement program

With submarines holding a crucial role as effective weapon platforms, the Ministry of Defence aims to assess the offerings of the candidate shipyards against the nation’s future naval requirements.

The competition for Netherland’s new submarines is part of the Walrus-class replacement program. According to GlobalData’s “Netherlands Defence Market 2023-2028” report, the Netherlands is replacing its four Walrus-class submarines. The future submarines will be diesel-electric and equipped with long-range missile capabilities.

Following the submission, an evaluation process is expected to extend until January 2024 to ensure a comprehensive assessment of each tender. The provisional award decision will be made based on this assessment, subsequent parliamentary debates, and the finalisation of the decision.

Naval Group will likely offer a variant of their Scorpene or conventionally powered Barracuda class. The Scorpene has shown popularity in Brazil, with the Brazilian Navy commissioning its first Scorpene-class submarine Riachuelo in 2022. Naval Group launched France’s first Barracuda-class nuclear submarine in 2019.

The award decision will also consider the potential for industrial cooperation with the winning yard. Through Industrial Cooperation Agreements (ICAs), the Dutch government seeks to fortify the Netherlands Defence Technological and Industrial Base (NLDTIB). 

Germany-based ThyssenKrupp the natural partner?

Saab offers the A26, and ThyssenKrupp is proposing a variant of the 212CD E class. It’s worth noting that the Netherlands already has very heavy military integration with Germany, so Germany-based ThyssenKrupp could be considered a natural partner. 

The Netherlands is also procuring four frigates to replace its existing De Zeven Provincien-class, and the country is working with Germany for the procurement, which will replace the F124 in Germany, according to a GlobalData report.

With nearly 1,000 companies forming the NLDTIB, contributions from the winning yard are crucial to strengthening the European and transatlantic defence ecosystem. Areas such as radar technology, aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, sensor technology, and surface ship construction are prime examples of the expertise in the NLDTIB.

While the MoD evaluates the tender submissions, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy will independently assess the ICAs proposed by the shipyards. This parallel evaluation aims to ensure a comprehensive review of both technical and industrial aspects, paving the way for an informed decision.

The outcome of the tender assessment will yield an overall ranking, ultimately determining the provisional winner. The ICA proposal of the provisional winner, evaluated and verified by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, will be integrated into the final decision. 

Once reviewed by the submarine replacement ministerial committee and the cabinet, the provisional award decision will be presented to the House of Representatives, marking a crucial step toward acquiring the Netherlands’ next-generation submarines.

As the Netherlands MoD progresses through this meticulous evaluation and selection process, the nation eagerly awaits the decision to shape its naval capabilities and strengthen its defence industry partnerships.