Koninklijke Marine: letter B given to the submarine builders selected to replace the Walrus

The State Secretary for Defense of the Government of the Netherlands, Ms. Barbara Visser, signed this Friday, December 13, 2019 the letter B handed over to the three submarine builders selected for the final phase of the call for tenders. There letter B was even published through a press release from the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands. Retaining three manufacturers would be representative of the inability of the ministries involved in the decision to agree and even a source of difficulties for the further study of the proposals. It is now official that the replacement of the class submarines Walrus will begin a year later than planned.

Dutch class submarines Walrus (Zr. Ms. Walrus (1992), Zr. Mrs. Zeeleeuw (1990), Zr. Mrs. Dolphin (1993) and Zr. Mrs. Bruinvis (1994) will leave the service between 2028 and 2031 instead of the previously targeted period, that is to say 2027 – 2031. The one-year delay will increase the industrial pressure which will weigh on the winner of the market to emerge four cents -sailors in four years with the development time of the head of series which is reduced to nothing.

The Class Submarine Replacement Program Walrus should be around 3,5 billion euros according to the Dutch press. There letter B specifies that the entire budget will be charged to the Ministry of Defense's wallet alone between 2019 and 2034.

Replacement Program Walrus which began, under the legal procedures governing public contracts of more than 25 million euros in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, by sending a request for information contained in a “ letter A » to European submarine builders. This contains the requirements definition phase (“what” and “why” of the need).

The second phase was to begin with the sending of a “ letter B » to the successful bidders. This letter would have specified all the military characteristics expected for these submarines and asks “how” the need will be met. According to the schedule of White Paper 2018, the letter should have been sent in 2018. The 2020 budget postponed the choice of finalists and therefore the sending of the letter B at the beginning of 2020. But a political will to bring this matter to fruition at the end of 2019 was perceptible.

La letter B, thirteen pages long, details the entire institutional procedure followed in accordance with the legal procedures governing public contracts worth more than 25 million euros and depicts the state of progress.

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The A26 program benefited from an order in 2015: the future HMS Blekinge (2024?) and HMS Skåne (2025?). SAAB, after having bought Kockums (2014) from TKMS which allowed its Swedish subsidiary to die, is working to win a foreign order. After Australia (Model 612, 4000 t), SAAB, allied with Damen, offers a variant of the A26 (Model 712, ~ 3000 t) in the Netherlands.

It is thus affirmed (p. 8) that the proposition of Navantia (S-80Plus) is not considered satisfactory and therefore excluded from the next phase. The ministry reports that the Spanish shipbuilding company declared that it could not move away from off-the-shelf equipment (Military 0ff The Shelf (WORDS) of the program series to satisfy the Dutch need which requires a different “variant”.

Women - SAAB Kockums (Model 712 (A26), Naval group (Barracuda) and TKMS (Type 212 CD (Common Development) are retained (pp. 8 and 9) for the remainder of the call for tenders. As this is not a new need, it is therefore not necessary to follow the procedure of the phase C. Negotiations begin between these submarine builders and the Defense Material Organization (DMO or Material Organization Directorate) as part of phase D of the procedure, the outcome of which will be the signing of a contract with the successful bidder.

Retaining three of the four submarine manufacturers seems to mean that the Dutch ministries (Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Economy) involved in the procedure are definitively unable to bring about, if not a decision, at least a consensus. Navantia is excluded solely because its industrial proposal cannot evolve sufficiently to meet Dutch needs. This virtual absence of decision makes some fear that the detailed study and the dialogue which will be established between the DMO and the candidates precisely exceed the capacities of the Dutch administration to carry out the study of the proposals while monitoring their evolution.

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Naval group offers in Holland a boat with more than 3000 tonnes of diving displacement. This is a new version of what should be called the Barracuda “family” which already included the Attack (Australia) and Suffren (France) classes. This submarine is distinguished by its diving bars positioned on the massif and by a hull entirely covered with anechoic tiles.

The three submarine builders in the final phase of the tender will engage in a fierce battle. SAAB Kockums must supplement its workload plan in order to ensure the maintenance of its skills and its economic viability. The Swedish Ministry of Defense does not appear open to an additional and upcoming order for submarines from the program A26. TKMS is also known to be in difficulty because its main submarine contracts (Turkey, South Korea, Singapore) are coming to an end. THE Type 212 CD in Norway is in a difficult position and Naval group suggests to Italians not to order their version of Type 212 CD. Naval group can only seize the opportunity to put in difficulty rather TKMS which SAAB Kockums with the perspective of gaining the upper hand over the recomposition of the European navy and forcing the German industrialist to come to the negotiating table.

The objective specified by the letter B is for the contract to be formalized in 2022 after being examined by the Parliament of the Netherlands. This may involve understanding that a bidder could be selected in 2021 so that exclusive negotiations can be carried out between 2021 and 2022.

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