It will probably take another twenty years, but then our Royal Netherlands Navy will have a completely new fleet that will hopefully be up to any threats to Europe’s territorial integrity. The first ship of this new fleet, the supply ship Den Helder is currently under construction for delivery next year.
The first new mine-countermeasure vessels, a joint Dutch-Belgian project led by the Belgians, are under construction. And decisions can probably be expected after the summer on the four new frigates for the Belgian and Royal Netherlands Navy, with the Dutch being in the lead for this project.
Also to be expected this year is the decision on which shipyard combination the government will partner with to build four new submarines: the Saab-Damen combination, German thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS) or French Naval Group.
Turning point in Defence spending
After years of cutbacks and dismantling of our Dutch Defence, a turning point seems to have been reached. Significantly, the Rutte IV cabinet, for example, left the budget of the Ministry of Defence out of the equation for the first time during the round of cuts implemented in late April. Under the Russian threat to Europe, all doubts about usefulness and necessity seem to have finally disappeared.
But that doesn’t give you a new naval fleet with ships that can last thirty, forty years thanks to radical modernisation, the so-called Midlife Update, and all the other interim adjustments. For that, you first have to carefully consider what kind of ships you will need in the coming decades and what they should look like. Meanwhile, the Department of Defence has to scramble for sufficient funds while, on the other hand, it has to constantly work with the builders to make sure that costs don’t get out of hand.
When it comes to getting a good understanding of what is involved in building a new fleet for the Navy, the editors of SWZ|Maritime are lucky to have ir. Jaap Huisman in their midst, someone who has been involved in these types of projects at the Ministry of Defence for more than forty years. He is the coordinator, and in many cases the author, of all articles on naval construction in the naval special of SWZ|Maritime’s May issue.
And it will not stop there, by the way, as SWZ’s next issue will also feature an article by Huisman on interesting developments in naval construction. All the more reason to follow SWZ|Maritime closely.
This is editor-in-chief Antoon Oosting’s editorial accompanying the May 2023 issue.
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The articles in SWZ|Maritime’s May issue
In addition to the regular sections such as Dutch news, Markets, Maritime monthly, Global news, Book reviews, news from the KNVTS and Mars Report, the articles (some in Dutch) in the May issue are:
- The Combat Support Ship, facts and features
- Assurance of lithium-ion batteries for submarines
- Anti-Submarine Warfare Frigate replaces M-class
- New gun and ammunition handling for the Dutch LCF
- Decarbonisering van de scheepvaart
- Impact of added resistance on shipping economy
- How MARIN’s TopTier JIP is faring
- Russia’s changing trade routes
Picture: The Combat Support Ship Den Helder is currently under construction at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania and will be delivered next year (photo Damen Shipyards Group/cover picture SWZ|Maritime May 2023).