Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group and Swedish defense company Saab are teaming up for the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Walrus-class submarine replacement program, according to a Damen Shipyards Group press release. Beyond the teaming agreement for the Walrus-class replacement, the two companies have agreed to “explore future opportunities in the international submarine market” and “explore ways in which they might bid jointly on other submarine procurement programs.”
The acquisition of Kockums by Saab in July 2014 put an end to a fraught period during which Kockums was owned by German Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS). With developments in the Ukraine, the Swedish Ministry of Defense, whose intellectual property includes the air independent propulsion system developed by Kockums, reportedly was worried over the security of that and other submarine technologies. The security worries culminated with a raid on the Malmo shipyard of Kockums in April 2014, where files and apparently engine components were taken away by Swedish MoD personnel. Saab’s acquisition of Kockums put security worries to rest, and returned the nation’s strategic submarine construction capability to Swedish hands, but the company is looking to sell submarines abroad as well. Kockums AIP systems are used aboard several classes of submarine, and the company’s Gotland-class submarines are well-respected.
“Saab Kockums is looking forward to cooperating with the experienced shipbuilders at Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding. We have the full support of our Swedish customer in broadening our customer base to include a new demanding high-end customer,” said Gunilla Fransson, head of Saab Security and Defense Solutions.
Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding supplies major surface vessels to navies worldwide. Damen delivers about 160 vessels annually, ranging in size from 7 meters to more 200 meters. The Walrus-class submarines were originally built for the Royal Netherlands Navy by Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM), which was sold by the Dutch government and the province of Zeeland to Damen in 2000.
“We are convinced that with Saab we have found the ideal partner to realize a successor to the present Walrus class; a vessel that will set a new standard for non-nuclear submarines. The complementarity of both our companies opens up the potential for a successful cooperation in more submarine programs worldwide,” said Hein van Ameijden, managing director of Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding.