The Netherlands Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sent a request for quotation (RFQ) to three candidate shipyards for the Walrus-class submarine replacement programme.

The shipbuilding companies are Naval Group, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Saab Kockums.

After initially being shortlisted in 2019, the companies will now submit their bids for the development of four new submarines by mid-2023.

Once the bids are submitted, the MoD will commence the process of analysing each proposal and take a few months before finalising the decision to award the contract to one of the three shipyards.

This process will be based on pre-established requirements and award criteria.

The Dutch MoD said that one of the crucial criteria to affect the decision will be the involvement of the Netherlands’ industry partners in the construction, development and maintenance of the new submarines.

The MoD desires as much Dutch involvement as possible to strengthen the country’s technological and industrial base.

Another significant aspect is that the winning company should mandatorily sign an agreement with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

The latest move marks a major milestone in the Royal Netherlands Navy’s programme to replace the ageing Walrus-class submarine fleet.

However, the MoD is anticipating that this programme will take another ten years, from the time of contract award to the time when the first two submarines enter service.

Until the new submarines are inducted, the navy will continue to operate the existing Walrus fleet.

The vessels will gradually be decommissioned, starting with the first two of the four submarines, and their equipment and parts will subsequently be used for the sustainment of the remaining submarines.