Last week, rumours surfaced that the billion-dollar contract for new Dutch submarines is likely to go to French Naval Group. It would most likely mean less involvement for the Dutch maritime industry. Dutch Parliament now wants to debate the issue before a winning shipbuilder is announced.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf revealed last week that Naval Group can 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. It would also mean that the Saab-Damen cooperation would miss out on the contract.

The contract for four new submarines is estimated to be worth between EUR 4 and 6 billion. The third party in the race for the contract is German Thyssenkrupp.

Also read: Damen may miss out on Dutch submarine order

Debate requested

Now, it is precisely Naval Group being state-owned and being able to offer the boats at a lower price that has triggered the request for a debate in Parliament ahead of the contract award on 15 March. According to Dutch Member of Parliament Chris Stoffer, who requested the debate on Tuesday, 5 March, the issue at stake is an ‘unlevel playing field’.

On X (formerly Twitter), Stoffer says: ‘We pull out all the stops for the sake of the Dutch manufacturing industry. […] The jobs and strategic knowledge related to submarine construction are hugely important for the Netherlands. You don’t give this away to fiercely lobbying Frenchmen. The cabinet has a clear task: stand up for NL!’

A majority voted in favour of the debate, which will take place with State Secretary of Defence Christophe van der Maat and the Minister of Economic Affairs Micky Adriaansens. A date is yet to be announced.

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

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