The Netherlands’ prime shipbuilder, Damen Naval, has subcontracted Schelde Gears B.V. – a Dutch subsidiary of the German defence supplier RENK – to supply eight gearbox systems for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates due to be delivered to the Belgian and Dutch navies.

These systems will be part of the ship’s combined diesel-electric and diesel propulsion system, which is a solution that will provide quiet propulsion and high resilience to external impacts.

“We have a long working relationship with RENK, and we are delighted to have them on board for this project,” said Damen project director Joop Noordijk.

“The ASW frigates will be unrivalled in both design and capabilities, and we can’t wait to see them take shape in the coming years. We are steadily finding our suppliers and partners for this project, and we are particularly pleased that with Schelde Gears, this contract has a connection so close to home to us.”

Damen is the prime contractor for the joint Dutch-Belgian ASW frigate programme. These surface combatants will replace ageing M-class frigates that both navies operate. Two vessels entered the Dutch Navy between 1993 and 1995, with two ships acquired by the Belgians between 2003 and 2005.

Likewise, these ships will replace Belgium’s ageing Leopold I and Louise-Marie vessels, providing the Belgian Navy with more advanced capability. The purchase was specifically articulated in Belgium’s 2015 military modernisation plan.

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These future ships’ main task will be ASW, and they will be designed for advanced cyber and electronic warfare (E.W.) capabilities. The frigates will be equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and light machine guns for surface threats, torpedo systems, and underwater defence systems.

Thales is providing E.W. capabilities for the vessels while the Alewijnse, another Dutch supplier, provides integration services for electrical systems.

Notably, the programme has encountered some delays since the Dutch Government changed the requirements to facilitate a larger ship, pushing back the decision-making.

Damen Naval already uses RENK’s customised propulsion solutions for the German Navy’s F126 multi-purpose combat frigates and the globally successful Sigma-class frigates. This contract adds the ASW frigates to the list.

The first gearboxes are due to arrive for installation in October 2025. Damen Naval is scheduled to deliver the first ASW frigates in 2028.