Dutch shipbuilder Royal IHC has joined the Dutch Underwater Knowledge Centre (DUKC). The knowledge platform unites Dutch companies and research institutes with expertise in underwater technology and particularly seeks to involve the Dutch maritime industry in the Royal Netherlands Navy’s submarine replacement programme.

The DUKC aims for the preservation, development and positioning of the knowledge and skills in the existing underwater technology industry and related research institutes. It wants to highlight the Dutch underwater industry’s innovative capacity and and position this industry and related research institutes nationally and internationally.

The organisation also strives for constant involvement in the maintenance of the Dutch submarines and future replacement programmes.

Also read: DUKC: Dutch industry can play a major role in submarine replacement

IHC in bid for submarine replacement

In 2020, the Dutch Government had to rescue IHC from bankruptcy. In November of that year, it was announced some 600 jobs would be cut as part of a reorganisation to save costs. In addition, 700 temporary workers were let go. Subsequently, certain activities were divested to allow the company to focus on its core business, particularly the dredging and offshore markets.

Also read: Shipbuilder IHC suffers major loss over 2020 due to problem vessels

However, the mining and defence markets are also important for the company from Kinderdijk. In 2020, Royal IHC started to expand its activities in the global defence market. For example, contacts have been strengthened with the Dutch Ministry of Defence. This initially led to a number of engineering assignments.

Royal IHC is now a member of the “HR ecosystem” and a partner in the Maritime Capacity Alliance. This is aimed at the exchange of knowledge and innovations, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence in the context of the adaptive armed forces.

Royal IHC also intensified its cooperation with French Naval Group to qualify for the Dutch submarine replacement programme. In the bid for this multi-billion contract, the shipyard faces competition from German ThyssenKrupp and the Swedish-Dutch combination of Saab and Damen Shipyards.

Royal IHC expects a worldwide increase of investment in defence equipment in the near future. In the Netherlands, this could lead to extra expenditure for, among other things, the replacement and renewal of part of the naval fleet.

Also read: Dutch Parliament asks Government to involve Dutch maritime industry in submarine replacement