The Dutch Defence Ministery has reached an important milestone in the submarine replacement project. The request for tender is ready. It will be sent to the 3 candidate yards in mid-November 2022. The yards are then expected to send their bids around summer 2023. Defence will need several months to analyse these bids and then decide on the award.
This is an important project and a lot of money. We therefore did not rush to decide what kind of submarines we want and how much we want to pay for them when requesting tenders,” State Secertary Christophe Van der Maat said. “In addition, we want the boat to be able to be armed, the boats to be delivered on time and Dutch industry to be involved in construction and maintenance. This milestone heralds the next phase.”
As indicated in the Defence Paper 2022, Defence wants to invest in strengthening the armed forces’ strike power. The replacement of submarines, a niche capability within NATO and the EU, is an important part of this. The threat on the eastern flank of the NATO treaty area makes it all the more clear how important it is that NATO partners continue to invest in their capabilities.
For the navy, Defence is also investing in the acquisition of long-range missiles launchable from frigates and submarines. The Parliment will be further informed about this need in 2023.
The budget for the project has been increased. This extra money was partly earmarked in the 2023 Defence Budget. Defence has also freed up money by identifying some projects from the long-term planning whose midlife update can be carried out later. Defence considers this acceptable for now, as the impact on operational readiness would be limited. The government considers the project worth this investment.
“The submarine is one of our most important strategic weapon systems: they are virtually untraceable and powerful in every phase of conflict. We can therefore use them for many different tasks. Protecting ships, repelling adversaries, gathering intelligence and deploying our special forces. The Netherlands and NATO must be able to count on this unique capability,” the State Secretary explained. Defence is sticking to four units in the tender.
Defence wants the shipyards to involve Dutch industry in the construction and maintenance of the boats. This will help Dutch industry, including in the international market, and create employment and retain knowledge. Therefore, the winning shipyard will have to conclude an agreement with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate: a so-called industrial cooperation agreement.
“Also, the Directorate of Material Conservation of the Navy will have a directing role in the maintenance of the new submarines. This will allow us to retain personnel and invest in new personnel and infrastructure. After all, Den Helder must become a ‘submarine maintenance valley’,” Van der Maat concludes.