New submarines delayed, Defense: ‘2028 not realistic’

The current replacement project for the four submarines of the walrus class is going slower than the defense had expected, the resigned Minister of Defense Henk Kamp informed today to the House of Representatives. The program is also screened. The schedule must be “substantially adjusted”.

Submarine-class submarine goes under water near Den Helder. (Photo: Jaime Karremann /

The submarine replacement was formally launched in 2015 (but actually in 2013), and three shipyards are currently underway: Naval Group (with IHC), Saab (with Damen) and tkMS. At the beginning of this year, the Armed Forces started the ‘dialogue phase’ with these three, where the shipyards were asked various questions. This first part of the dialogue phase ran from 8 February to 17 June 2021. The start of the second part in September has been postponed until December.

According to Kamp’s letter to the Folketing, the shipyards were not used to answering such in – depth questions, and the shipyards needed more time to answer questions. As the Armed Forces also does not state which factors are most important for the design, the yard cannot, on the basis of this dialogue, properly adapt its own design to the Ministry’s requirements. Finally, it turned out that the Armed Forces needs more time “to be able to analyze the information from the shipyards properly”.

The defense expects the contract signing, which is scheduled for the end of 2022, to be “unattainable”, according to According to the Ministry of Defense, it is not yet clear what the reason is: “What is the cause and how much extra time is needed is still being mapped. It is already clear that the planning needs to be adjusted significantly.”

The letter states that the arrival of the first new boat in 2028 can also not be achieved: “Furthermore, due to information from the candidate yards during the first round of dialogue, it must be concluded that it is no longer realistic. previously reported contract signing at the end of 2022, replacement of submarine capacity from 2028 and phasing out of the Walrus class by the end of 2031. “

Previously, the first new submarine was to be commissioned in 2025.

Continue sailing with walruses for more than ten years
The delay is a major setback for the Submarine Service. The current Walrus-class submarines are already the oldest operational submarines in Dutch history. These will be replaced from 2028. The Navy naturally wants the transition of the old and new boats to proceed as smoothly as possible so that the “national and NATO objectives can also be met”, Kamp writes. The Minister emphasizes that the Armed Forces is working on a step-by-step plan for the change from old to new, which will be shared with the House in 2022. It may just be that the current boats will continue to sail for more than ten years: ” An integrated risk assessment and planning requires insight into the financial and operational risks of continuing to sail further with the walrus-class submarines in the years to come. 2031. ”

De Zeeleeuw will be in service for 40 years by 2030.

Unexpected? – comment

Although Kamp states in its letter that the delay is unexpected, the message from the Armed Forces must contain recognizable elements for readers of The defense organization is currently investigating the reason for the delay and is investigating the project to learn from it, but unfortunately experts from outside (and within) the defense have pointed out the high risk of delays on in recent times. The Ministry of Defense also stated that there were risks and uncertainties associated with the planning.

However, the risks have actually increased due to the design of the replacement program, which differs significantly from the regular process. There is sometimes a fear of a ‘submarine redesign’ due to risks and delays, but the ‘redesign of the compensation program’ was clearly open to experimentation.

An important point is the dialogue with three yards, instead of a dialogue with one yard. It has already been indicated in previous articles that by talking to multiple yards, the yards are less likely to show the back of their tongue. They are less willing to share information if they are not sure they will be chosen because you never know where that knowledge will go.

In addition, there has long been criticism from the defense shipyards that the requirements were not known. The defense shared the requirements last year, but that was for a boat that got 100 points on all subjects. As stated in the letter to the Folketing, the Ministry of Defense has not yet announced any priorities. If a farm is chosen with which a design is made or adapted, the farm tends to tell more as a partner, but also ask more questions and come up with a design together.
However, one yard was not chosen for fear that the costs would be high, while it was done for other projects where DMO has more experience.

Three recruitment is three times more information, DMO must be able to answer all the data from in-depth questions. So it takes more time “than hope”. Although DMO has grown in terms of knowledge and personnel, it was already feared that DMO did not have sufficient capacity because the current procurement and design organization is not as large as DMKM was. And at that time, DMKM also spoke with only one farm.

It should come as no surprise that 2028 is impossible to implement. That would require an Olympic record from both the DMO and the builder.

It is a pity that the submarine replacement project in particular is being hampered by bureaucratic experiments. Unfortunately, this delay is not really unexpected. The project has not yet been lost and fortunately the Ministry of Defense is looking for improvements: “It is also being investigated how knowledge and capacity can best be deployed to ensure that the continuation of the program proceeds smoothly.” understands that in the relatively short time he will be Minister, Kamp will pay special attention to this replacement project. It can have a positive effect.

News hour 9 December 2019 on dialogue with three shipyards. (Source: Nieuwsuur)

The series of concerns about the submarine program
1. Submarines from the shelf

2. The Dutch industry comes on board

3. Why will there be no new boats in 2028

4. The tower of bureaucracy

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