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Naval Group wins out for Netherlands submarine replacement programme

Naval Group's Black Sword Barracuda design has been selected as the basis for the Netherlands' Walrus-class replacement submarine programme. (Naval Group)

The Netherlands has selected France's Naval Group as its preferred bidder for a new class of conventional submarine to replace the Royal Netherlands Navy's (RNLN's) current Walrus-class boats.

Naval Group, offering its Black Sword Barracuda design, was chosen ahead of rival proposals from Saab (bidding the C718 expeditionary derivative of Sweden's A26 design) and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (pitching the Type 212CD E expeditionary variant of the German/Norwegian Type 212CD). The Black Shark Barracuda is a scaled, conventionally powered derivative of the French Navy's Suffren-class nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Announcing the provisional award on 15 March, State Secretary for Defence Christophe van der Maat described the French offer as “a balanced, versatile, and realistic bid”, adding, “Dutch industry has a strong role to play, [which is] an important requirement in this award.”

Naval Group said it would support the submarine programme through an ambitious industrial co-operation plan. “This plan will involve [our] existing network of Dutch partners on key systems and components, ensuring that the Netherlands ecosystem develops and retains expertise and involvement over the submarine life cycle,” the company said.

However, the Saab/Damen team – which had long been seen as favourites for the contract – reacted strongly to the decision. In a statement, the two companies said they remained convinced that they had offered the best solution, adding, “Our offering builds on existing Dutch knowledge and expertise. Only in this way can we contribute to the safety and autonomy of the Netherlands.”

Designed during the latter stages of the Cold War, the four Walrus-class submarines were commissioned into the RNLN between 1990 and 1994. Three boats remain in service.

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