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France, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany have a globally active national naval shipbuilding industry as a defense industrial and technological base, which in Europe urgently needs consolidation due to its high level of fragmentation and overcapacity. In Germany, naval shipbuilding is faced with the important decision as to how it should strategically align itself in the future and whether national consolidation has priority over European consolidation for companies.

The naval shipbuilding industry includes shipyards and companies in the supply industry. It can be divided into the following system areas: surface combat units, submarines, anti-mine and combat craft, landing craft, marine-specific support vehicles and subsystems, which include propulsion systems, weapons, command and control systems, as well as radar, sonar and other sensors.

Europe has a broad technological competence and a high system capability in the integration of complex technological areas of knowledge, such as sensor technology, drive technology, electronics, weapon system technology, protection technology and lightweight construction, as well as efficient project management. Cross-border joint ventures, cooperations and armaments programs have so far been the exception. Only three of the 14 armaments programs managed by the Joint Organization for Armaments Projects (OCCAR) belong to naval shipbuilding: the Franco-Italian multipurpose frigate project FREMM, a Landing Support Ship (LSS) and the Italian multipurpose patrol ship PPA.

One of the three armaments programs managed by OCCAR is the Franco-Italian multi-purpose frigate project FREMM ... (Photo: Fincantieri)

The construction and development of a prototype of the European Patrol Corvette (EPC) is the only one of six projects of the permanent structured cooperation PESCO of the EU member states in the maritime sector, which concerns naval shipbuilding. To this end, France, Greece, Italy and Spain have agreed to collaborate on the EPC project, which provides for the construction and development of a prototype of a new military class of ships within PESCO under Italian leadership. Germany is not involved in any of the six maritime projects.

The international competition is intensified considerably by the USA and Russia as well as with the emergence of efficient naval shipbuilding in the Asian countries China, South Korea and Japan for the European shipyards. In addition, industrial policy in France, Italy and Spain aims to secure the national defense capacities and key technologies of the state-owned companies and to support the government's export activities. Between these countries, with the involvement of the European organizations OCCAR and PESCO, there has been increased cooperation and joint ventures in naval shipbuilding, which increases the competitive pressure, especially for German companies.

... also the Landing Support Ship program and the Italian multi-purpose patrol ship program PPA (Photo: Defensie NL)

Naval shipbuilding is an indispensable strategic partner of the Navy. That is why national industrial policy in most countries is geared towards maintaining capacities, technologies and employment in the country through contracts, preventing undesirable dependencies on foreign countries and ensuring participation in international armaments cooperation. At the same time, the successful foreign orders from the major European shipyards have hindered extensive European consolidation so far.

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