Latest update on the Netherlands’ Walrus-Class Submarine replacement program

STOCKHOLM (navalnews): A so-called “basic report” was submitted to the Dutch representatives, offering an overview of the latest program developments. It appears now that the long-awaited decision on a winning bid is not expected before the end of 2022, confirming a one year delay in the process.

“When choosing the acquisition strategy, both policy aspects (including national security interests) and management aspects (including risks) were considered. None of the candidate sites emerged as the unanimous winner in the research phase (B phase)”.

That’s why the MoD opted for a procurement strategy with three foreign shipyards, namely Naval Group, Saab Kockums and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. The down-selection of the three companies was announced via the “B-letter” in December 2019.

The shortlisted candidates, from top to bottom: TKMS’ Type 212 Saab Damen’s A26, Naval Group Royal IHC design based on “Barracuda family”

A “competitive dialogue” is being conducted with each shipbuilder about the requirements for the future boats, which relate to best technical, price, risk management, essential national security interest & strategic autonomy and timing proposal.

If everything goes according to plan, this phase will last until the beginning of 2022.

A contract award is expected at the end of 2022 with the winning shipyard. “All of this is of course partly dependent on the progress and depth of the dialogue, but the situation regarding Covid-19 can also influence this,” the MoD added.

For the three contenders, a major issue will be to cope with the Netherlands requirement for technology share and local industry involvement, specifically for construction and maintenance of the submarines.

“Requirements will therefore be imposed to safeguard the national security interest and strategic autonomy. How this will take shape in practice is currently being discussed in the dialogue with the candidates”

The delivery timetable of the new submarines is another major topic of discussion in the dialogue. According to the MoD, the first ship is expected from 2028 and at least two submarines are to be fully operational by the end of 2031 in order for the RNLN to start phasing out the Walrus-class.

It is essential for the MoD that the 3rd and 4th boats reach full operational capability (FOC) soon after 2031, “because four submarines are needed to fully meet the national and NATO deployment targets”.