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Special Report: Shipyard upgrade key to thyssenkrupp Marine Systems' submarine ambitions

RSS Inimitable , the fourth and final Type 218SG boat for the Republic of Singapore Navy, was named at Kiel yard on 22 April 2024. With a length of about 70 m and a displacement of around 2,000 tonnes, the Type 218SG is the largest submarine built by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to date. (tkMS)

German shipbuilder thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH (tkMS) lays claim to be the world's most successful exporter of submarines in the post-war period. Through its submarine building forebears Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft and Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH, and design house Ingenieur Kontor Lubek, the company has sold over 175 diesel-electric and air independent propulsion (AIP) boats since 1945. Currently the Kiel shipyard is completing orders for Singapore (Type 218SG) and Israel (Dolphin II), and the production of six next-generation Type 212CD submarines to meet the joint needs of Germany and Norway is also under way.

However, today tkMS finds itself in an increasingly competitive and crowded market. Alongside established rivals such as Naval Group and Saab Kockums, the Kiel-based company is now also up against new entrants in the submarine export market from the likes of Spain (Navantia), South Korea (Hanwha Ocean and Hyundai Heavy Industries), and Türkiye (STM).

For Philipp Schön, group head of submarine sales at tkMS, the emergence of additional competitors makes the market more challenging. At the same time, he believes that tkMS remains well positioned by virtue of its depth of experience, broad design portfolio, and ability to meet customers' unique requirements.

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