Four Dutch provinces are urging the government to opt for the contractor that provides the largest possible Dutch share in the upcoming submarine contract. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the French are now in the lead for winning the contract, which may mean only a minor contribution from the Dutch industry.

The multi-billion contract for four new submarines for the Royal Netherlands Navy is to be awarded somewhere in March. Three parties have submitted a proposal. These are German Thyssenkrupp, Swedish Saab-Kockums together with Dutch Damen Shipyards and French Naval Group together with Royal IHC.

De Telegraaf now writes that according to insiders, the order may well go to the French. Naval Group is said to be able to offer the “best boat for the best price” because it is partly state-owned and as such, it is able to take greater risks and deliver at a lower price than commercial yards. Although Naval Group is working with Dutch shipyard Royal IHC in the tender, control over construction will remain with the French. It is feared that real Dutch involvement will remain limited.

Also read: Request for proposal for new Dutch submarines ready, budget raised

Provinces want submarines built in the Netherlands

The Dutch provinces of Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland and Overijssel have now written a letter to the formateur of the new Dutch Cabinet to ‘draw attention to why securing the largest possible Dutch share of the tender is so important’.

In the letter, they stress that protecting a strong role of the Netherlands within the replacement of the submarines is of vital importance to the maritime security of the Netherlands. In addition, the provinces state that the order will impact the regional economy and offers a valuable basis for the future of the sector.

They write: ‘Integral involvement in one of the most complex maritime projects allows knowledge and skills to flow into other maritime projects in the Netherlands, which manifests itself in years of employment, innovation and added value for the regional and national economy.’

The provinces therefore ask the informateur ‘to give serious consideration to the fact that the development, construction and maintenance of submarines and naval vessels actually create innovation, knowledge development and employment in our country.’

They also add that ‘capturing the largest possible Dutch involvement in such an order offers the chance to further engage with the opportunities that the Maritime Manufacturing Sector Agenda outlines for the Dutch provinces.’

Also read: ‘Involve Dutch maritime industry in procurement of new submarines’

Response from Damen

Damen has issued a written statement regarding the news. The shipbuilder writes: ‘This proposed decision would not only be incomprehensible, but also cause irreparable damage to the maritime sector in the Netherlands. Recently, the government made an urgent appeal to our own industry to provide maximum support for defence projects, prioritising cooperation with northern European countries. This supposed choice [for Naval Group, Ed.] is in stark contrast to these ambitions and at odds with the recently published Maritime Manufacturing Sector Agenda “No Guts, No Dutch Glorie!”.’

Picture: Dutch Walrus class submarine (by the Dutch Ministry of Defence).

Also read: More delays for new Dutch submarines, Walrus class to stay in service longer