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Dutch navy retires first Walrus submarine

HNLMS Walrus was formally decommissioned on 12 October after 31 years of service. (Dutch MoD)

The Dutch navy has retired its lead Walrus-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK) from service.

HNLMS Walrus (S 802) – the first of four Walrus-class SSKs operated by the Dutch navy – was formally decommissioned during a ceremony held in Den Helder, the Netherlands, on 12 October.

Announcing the milestone the same day, the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the decommissioning ceremony marked “both the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter” as the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) progresses its plans to procure four new replacement submarines for the Walrus-class SSKs, which entered service between 1990 and 1994.

In early 2024 the MoD is planning to announce which shipyard will build the successor to the Walrus class. In the meantime, Walrus will serve as a source of spare parts to keep the other three boats – Zeeleeuw (S 803), Dolfijn (S 808), and Bruinvis (S 810) – operational.

“The withdrawal of Walrus will help the navy to focus on the future in the coming years and to facilitate the material maintenance of the sailing boats,” said Captain Jeroen van Zanten, group commander of the RNLN's Submarine Service.

In the longer term, a second submarine will also be retired and used for spares, although the date has yet to be determined, the MoD said. The Dutch navy will continue to operate two Walrus SSKs to bridge the gap until the introduction of the replacement submarines to service.

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