The first vessel to succede the illustrious Walrus-class submarine will enter service with the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) sometime around 2025. The new class of submarine is a necessity from a military-strategic perspective. It also provides the Netherlands with a unique opportunity to give its high-tech naval engineering and shipbuilding industry a significant impetus. Two birds with one stone – prosperity and peace of mind.
An inventory drawn up in 2013 by the Netherlands naval industry made clear that a large part of the design, engineering and construction of the newly designed expeditionary submarines can actually be executed by Dutch companies, as shown in the national and far-reaching life extension programme of the Walrus class submarines. Nonetheless, it is also evident that, without the support of an experienced submarine builder from abroad, extremely specific technology and essential components such as air-independent propulsion (AIP) cannot be developed cost-efficiently. Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) realised this at an early stage and, after exhaustive analysis and assessment of all potential international partners, selected Saab-Kockums in Sweden as an exclusive partner for the replacement of the Walrus class by newly designed non-nuclear expeditionary submarines. The reason for choosing Saab was simple: Saab is the only European submarine builder with experience in this type of submarines and the only one currently engineering and building a new class of submarine, which will considerably de-risk the Walrus replacement program.