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Netherlands expects bids for submarine tender

14th September 2022 - 10:57 GMT | by Tim Fish in Auckland


Walrus has been decommissioned from RNLN service and is likely to be followed by a second boat. (Photo: Wikicommons)

Progress is being made to speed up the acquisition of a new submarine to replace the RNLN's four Walrus-class diesel-electric attack submarines.

The Netherlands MoD is expected to request bids from three European shipbuilders shortly for its new submarine programme.

An MoD spokesperson told Shephard that an RfQ will be sent to the candidate shipyards in the last quarter of 2022.

This will be ‘followed by a quotation process of an estimated one year until the award decision’, the spokesperson added.

In an April 2022 statement, Dutch defence minister Christophe van der Maat announced a series of decisions to try and speed up the acquisition process for the new boats that are intended to replace the Royal Netherlands Navy’s (RNLN’s) existing four Walrus-class submarines.

Delays due to a lack of detailed proposals from the shipyards that meet RNLN requirements, reported by Shephard in November 2021, have seen the replacement submarine project slip by a year. A contract award was initially expected at the end of 2022.

Van der Maat stated that the quotation would separate the construction contract for the boats from the maintenance contract. The latter will be decided once delivery of the boats is underway.

The spokesperson was unable to provide details about the submarines, but the new platforms will be capable of launching long-range missiles. 

Saab is offering a variant of the A26 Blekinge-class submarines it is building for Sweden. It is believed that Naval Group and TKMS are offering variants of the Barracuda and Type 212 respectively.

To allow the Walrus class to remain in service until the arrival of the new submarines, up to two of the four boats will be retired and used for spare parts to keep the other pair operational.

The MoD confirmed that the lead boat Walrus was taken out of service this year. ‘This submarine was already not in service because it was waiting for maintenance,’ the spokesperson said, adding: ‘It has not yet been decided which submarine will be the second one to be withdrawn from service and when this will be the case.’

However, it is expected that a second boat will follow Walrus out of service. The spokesperson said that the intention is to ‘guarantee the continuity of the submarine capacity as much as possible and to ultimately keep two operationally relevant Walrus-class submarines in service for this purpose until the moment that two new submarines are fully deployable.’

Further delays could see a loss of the RNLN’s sub-surface capability. Construction of the Walrus class began in the early 1980s and the boats were commissioned in the early 1990s, meaning they are already almost 40 years old.

The spokesperson said: ‘We want to prevent a capability gap as much as possible. However, [an] extension of the operational life of the Walrus class must above all be safe and responsible.’

Tim Fish


Tim Fish

Tim Fish is a special correspondent for Shephard Media. Formerly the editor of Land Warfare …

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