As the Dutch defense ministry continues its search for the next generation of submarines, the country’s navy is looking to mothball two of the boats currently in service to ensure a submarine capability until the new boats are delivered.
According to a Dutch defense ministry announcement, the Royal Netherlands Navy will retire one Walrus-class submarine soon, and later a second, to enable the the other two to remain in service into the mid-2030s, when the new boats are expected to start arriving.
The two older boats, HNLMS Zeeleeuw and HNLMS Walrus, which entered service in 1990 and 1992, will then be cannibalized for parts for the two younger boats.
The announcement on the retirement of the boats comes after the Dutch defense ministry admitted it would miss the 2022 deadline to pick a successor for the Walrus-class.
The Royal Netherlands Navy initially expected to begin replacing the Walrus-class in 2028, with the process concluding by the end of 2031. According to latest estimates, the winning design is expected to be identified in 2023, with the delivery of the first two of the new boats between 2034 and 2037.
France’s Naval Group, Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and Sweden’s Saab-Kockums are currently sparring for the contract after Spain’s Navantia was removed from the competition in 2019.
The Dutch defense ministry said that investigations into the procurement of new submarines identified various improvement points. This is why management will be organized differently and communication within the project improved.