This information was published last week by the Dutch Ministry of Defense:
“The talks with the three candidate recruits have yielded less information and less depth than the Ministry of Defense had estimated in advance. This was partly because the request from the Ministry of Defense went further than the shipyards are used to in this phase of talks. The designs could not yet be optimized and the Ministry of Defense itself also needed more time to analyze the information received.”
The three competing shipyards are Naval Group, Saab Kockums and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. The down-selection of the three companies was announced via the “B-letter” in December 2019.
A 2nd round of dialogue should have started in September 2021 but has been postponed until December. This round will be used to further review the concepts and whether they meet the requirements set by the Dutch MoD.
It now appears that the long-awaited decision on a winning bid, initially expected by the end of 2022 at best (following an initial one year delay in the process) will have to be pushed further.
“A contract signing was planned for the end of 2022, but this is unfeasible. The reasons for this and the extra time required are still being mapped out. What is clear is that the planning will have to be substantially adjusted.”
Dutch MoD statement
The delivery timetable of the new submarines is another major topic of discussion in the dialogue. According to the MoD, the first ship was expected from 2028 and at least two submarines were to be fully operational by the end of 2031 in order for the Royal Netherlands Navy 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.
As alternative, the service life of the in-service submarines could be extended. The Dutch MoD is already considering this option:
“A working group is also looking at how the current submarines can remain in use for longer, taking into account the financial and operational risks. The minister will inform the House in the spring of 2022”.