Dutch government picks France’s Naval Group for submarines order

By Thomson Reuters Mar 15, 2024 | 8:25 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch government on Friday said it had picked French defence company Naval Group to build four new submarines in coming decades in a long-brewing deal seen by politicians as a potential lifeline for the national shipbuilding industry.

The government said the first two submarines would be operational within the next 10 years. It did not specify the exact value of the multi-billion euro contract.

The submarines will be of a size to both operate in shallow waters and take part in missions far from base.

The agreement still has to be approved by the Dutch parliament, where several parties voiced discontent over the choice for Naval following media reports about the decision.

A group of lawmakers this week urged the government to rethink and opt for a consortium of Swedish defence company Saab and Dutch shipbuilder Damen instead, saying that would benefit domestic industry more.

But junior defence minister Christophe van der Maat on Friday said Naval’s bid would also create a lot of work for Dutch industry.

“Not only during building, but also for maintenance. This decision is not only good for our navy and our security, but definitely also for Dutch companies,” Van der Maat said.

The Dutch government earlier this month said it had largely granted the order to replace nearly its entire non-submarine fleet in the coming 15 years to Dutch industry, with large roles for Damen and the Dutch arm of French defence company Thales.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Andrew Cawthorne)