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In a press release, the Dutch Ministry of Defense in 2019 divides the delivery of so-called B letter on Friday, December 13 with. This provided for in the procurement process of the neighboring country the second (of four) steps, the evaluation phase is completed and inform Parliament about the decisions taken at this stage as variant (s), number / volume, budget issues, manufacturers (shipyards) and acquisition strategy.

On the basis of the basic parameters (see table) were asked four competitors to offer. After the announcement of the Ministry, the project amounts to more than 2.5 billion euros, in press releases to more than 3.5 billion euros. According to the current planning, a contract will be signed with one of the now remaining competitors 2,022th Ultimately, the new submarines are the current Walrus class have completely replaced in the 2031st

core characteristics option A variant B variant C
Weltweit (‚stealth‘) einsetzbar


All intended areas of application (supported on Den Helder) All of the intended application areas with limitations (use of an offshore base (FOB - forward operating base) NATO treaty area around Europe
Multi-Mission Package (weapons, special forces) and crew size Multi-Mission Dual Mission

Multi-Mission with limitations

Single mission
Zukunftsfähigkeit /


Excellent Sufficient to good Limited
Optimization possibilities in the draft Extensive optimization of all functions Losses in certain functions (compromise) Select specific functionalities


From the State Secretary of Barbara Visser sent B-letter shows that the French Naval Group, Saab Kockums (Sweden) and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems now proposals for four boats variant B must submit. In the letter it is also apparent that by the conventional method, at the end, the so-called C-letter stands and to the selection decision shows the representation of the decision path is deviated. Because you want to saddle up no new development, but on an existing design. The fourth competitor, the Spanish Navantia is, just do not come for that further consideration because their solution is "far from that chosen by the Ministry of Defense Variant B" (the wording of the letter B).

European competition

The Hague has chosen a European tender along §346 TEU. The Netherlands measure in the participation of the Dutch shipbuilding cluster, including SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and research institutes, great for planning, construction and subsequent maintenance importance. To protect vital maritime infrastructure is specially dedicated a section in the B letter. achieve "The Dutch shipbuilding needs the best possible position in the supply of foreign shipyards: State Secretary B. Visser. A good position as a supplier provides Dutch companies and knowledge institutions the opportunity to expand their own knowledge and skills, and the defense organization which benefits. "

This is reflected in the strategy of TKMS bill, which competes with a style similar to U212 CD design. The Kieler want the region to develop Den Helder to a "submarine valley" (allusion to Silicon Valley) and ensure Dutch Industrial Participation. Den Helder should thus develop into a European hub for underwater technologies, led by the Dutch Navy and industry. 500 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs will be created in North Holland.

In contrast Saab Kockums seems to enjoy a home advantage in connection with the Dutch ladies, which is integrated into the Dutch shipbuilding cluster. Which they could be considered favorites.

Naval Group has with the local shipbuilders Royal IHC (focused on the development and construction of marine dredging and accessories for the offshore industry) joined forces. It is believed that the French company design the attack class that she was successful in Australia presented.

The approach of the Dutch Ministry of Defense is not without controversy. For one, time is short, on the other hand there are fears that despite the shortcut the process, a time-consuming restart could be imminent. In particular, the Dutch industry, the missed opportunity for a definitive decision criticized. They would therefore be required in their eyes, to prevent a delay in the time to form a government after parliamentary elections in March 2021st What would also have an impact increase costs.

Also, there are different preferences that can be crucial in the government. In addition to the Ministry of Defense, the Ministries of Finance, Economy and Foreign Affairs play a role for observers. The Foreign Office in The Hague is said to have a special affinity with France. The risk of a possible collaboration with Naval Group could be on certain equipment units in the American refusal. Despite the (geographical) proximity to Germany and the extensive integration of the Dutch army in the German one suspicious of bureaucracy and slowness of the processes.

Hans Uwe Mergener