Netherlands details new ship projects

June 7, 2017, 6:32 pm

While the Royal Netherlands Air Force focuses on the F-35 multirole fighter, its new tanker aircraft and the procurement of CH-47F Chinooks, the navy is also working on numerous acquisition programmes.

Recent times have seen a lack of money for navy projects but the tides are now turning with at least ten new projects underway and officially set to begin in September.

‘Now it is our decade,’ said Capt Sebo Hofkamp, head, naval plans and requirements at the Netherlands MoD, during the Future Surface Fleet conference in Portsmouth.

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) is planning the replacement of its mine countermeasures (MCM) vessels, its M-Frigates and replacement of its four Walrus class submarines.

In 2016, the nation signed a memorandum of understanding with Belgium for the MCM and frigate projects. Six new MCM vessels and two frigates will be acquired by the Netherlands and the same number of both for Belgium.

Belgium will take the lead on the MCM vessel and Netherlands will lead on the frigate development, according to Hofkamp.

The replacements for the M-Frigate are scheduled to be delivered between 2024 and 2029 with the first two to be sent to the Netherlands. The project began two years ago with requirements and specifications completed and the new frigates will be optimised for anti-submarine warfare.

Models of the frigate designs shown during the presentation, revealed ships between 4,500 and 6,000 tonnes.

Some of the RNLN’s weapon systems are also scheduled for upgrade or renewal. Hofkamp said that the replacement of the Harpoon ship missile system will begin shortly, while the Netherlands is also looking into a new torpedo defence system for 2024 and beyond.

The MCM vessels will incorporate more unmanned systems, as is the trend with the renewal of MCM platforms.

‘We will build a ship to operate with all that unmanned gear… and launch and recover it up to sea state three or four,’ said the captain.

It is likely that the MCM vessels will be equipped with two USVs, up to 15m in length, and Hofkamp said the vessel itself will be around 80-90m.

The requirements for the MCM have been completed and the project is now in the specifications phase.

The nation is also looking at a fast replacement for its combat support ship with a new design. ‘We need it quick,’ said Hofkamp, ‘It should be in the water around 2022.’

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