Dutch MoD Clears Path For The M-Frigates Replacement, Expects Delays

Story by Nathan Gain with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur

The Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine) and Belgian Navy (Marinecomponent/Composante marine) will replace their current M-frigates (Karel Doorman-class), the Dutch MoD confirmed in an official statement. The future frigates’ main task will be anti-submarine warfare (ASW) thanks to a new type of torpedo and their embarked NH90 NFH maritime helicopter. All those elements are developed in a letter on the investigation phase the Secretary of State Barbara Visser sent today to the Dutch House of Representatives.

« In addition to anti-submarine warfare, the new frigate must be able to protect itself and other units. It must be deployable worldwide for maritime combat and security or assistance operations »

« Carefully weighing requirements, budget and planning turned out to be complex and took more time than expected. And that included the preparation of the Combat Support Ship. The available design capacity had to be divided between both projects, for which the priority for Defense was the Combat Support Ship », the Dutch MoD added.


For the record, the contract for the construction of the Royal Netherlands Navy’s new Combat Support Ship, HNLMS Den Helder, was signed in February between local shipbuilder Damen and the Dutch Defense Materiel Organization (DMO).

The investigation phase has now been completed with a design that meets the requirements of both the Defense and NATO. The two partners, Belgium and the Netherlands, went through the design process with shipbuilder Damen and Thales. The latter is the supplier of the integrated radar and fire control system.
The two partners also looked if an “off the shelf” design could be a usable, affordable and quicker alternative. However, this design did not meet the requirements of Defense and would finally save little time. The research did help to formulate the requirements, for example in terms of mission modularity. The latter means that the frigate must be able to perform various tasks. However, not all of these tasks are performed during the same mission. By assuming this, the ship turned out to be smaller and cheaper. But the new frigate is still getting bigger than the current M-frigate (5,500 tons against 3,300 tons).
Slight delivery delay
It was previously reported that the 1st new frigate would be operational from about 2025. It is now clear that after the contract is concluded, a detailed design phase of approximately 2 years is required before construction can start. « This is longer than initially anticipated », comments de MoD. The expectation is therefore that the first ship will be delivered in 2027 for extensive sea trials. The Dutch Navy is expected to have its first frigate operational in 2028 and the second one a year later. The Belgian frigates will be delivered starting 2030.
Source : Navalnews




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