COLOGNE, Germany — Germany, Norway and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems have agreed on technical and contractual details for their multibillion-dollar submarine program, readying the deal for a review by German appropriators in parliament.

The deal marks the end of negotiations underway since 2019, which were complicated by the global coronavirus pandemic, the German Defence Ministry said in a statement this week.

Officials played up the program as a growth engine for Germany’s shipbuilding industry, especially around the city of Kiel, which sits on the western end of the Baltic Sea and hosts contractor TKMS‘ submarine yard.

Germany and Norway signed a cooperation agreement for six U212 CD boats in 2017, with Norway in line to get four and Germany two. The acronym CD stands for “common design,” reflecting the vision of fielding a standardized vessel class attractive also to other European and NATO navies.

The bilateral pact covers joint development and acquisition, and extends into training of the crews.

“The capability for undersea warfare with identical boats will be essential for securing NATO’s northern flank,“ the German Defence Ministry said in a statement. The cooperation with Norway would expand the U212-style user base, which already includes Italy and Portugal, the statement added.

Defense officials in Berlin will have to submit the agreement to lawmakers for approval before signing a final contract. The submarine program is among a list of funding decisions that the ministry wants to have resolved before the summer recess begins in late June, a key cutoff date before the general election here in late September.

“This order represents the most important project for Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems for the next decade and will secure employment, not only in Kiel, for years to come,“ company CEO Rolf Wirtz said in a statement. “The contract, which has yet to be signed, contains tough conditions for us.“