‘Don’t sink our industry’ is the slogan of a new billboard campaign launched by Dutch political party SGP on Monday, 11 March. It is the same political party that requested a debate on the upcoming Dutch submarine contract award after rumours appeared that the order would go to French Naval Group. The debate is scheduled for 13 March.

Two weeks ago, rumours surfaced that the billion-euro 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 Shipyards cooperation would miss out on the contract, which would mean a bigger role for the Dutch maritime manufacturing industry.

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. The debate is now set for Wednesday evening, 13 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’.

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.

Also read: Dutch Parliament to debate submarine replacement contract

Billboard campaign

To reinforce their appeal, Stoffer’s political party SGP has also launched a billboard campaign that can be seen along motorways in the Netherlands this week titled ‘Don’t sink our industry’.

‘The jobs and the strategic and technological knowledge around submarine construction are hugely important for the Dutch economy. You don’t give this away to fiercely lobbying Frenchmen. The cabinet has a clear task: to stand up for the Netherlands,’ says Stoffer.

The SGP states on its website: ‘As more and more signs indicate that the mega-order for the construction of submarines will not go to the Dutch-Swedish consortium Damen-Saab, but to the French state-owned company Naval Group, the SGP is pulling out all the stops to still turn the tide.’

Stoffer adds: ‘The tender procedure has not yet been completed, so the cabinet still has its hands free to simply choose the Netherlands. Calculations show that for every euro we put into our own economy for this, we get back 1.25 euros. With a choice for the French, you are doing your own country a disservice.’

Picture by Dutch political party SGP.

Also read: Saab and Damen offer Dutch submarine design for export