COLOGNE, Germany ― Dutch and German defense acquisition leaders have agreed to boost their cooperation on naval matters, a move that could put a fresh spin on major shipbuilding programs currently in play, Defense News has learned.
The topic came up at a closed-door bilateral meeting of national armament directors this week, officials said. The gathering was meant as a broad examination of new defense cooperation opportunities with a particular focus on joint maritime projects.
A defense spokesman in Berlin said details of the meeting were confidential, noting only that the government was broadly interested in harmonizing defense programs with allies.
The Netherlands is in the market to replace its four aging Walrus-class submarines by 2027. Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems was tapped last year to build four Type 212 air-independent propulsion boats for Norway and two for Germany, to be delivered in the mid-2020s.
Meanwhile, the Dutch shipyard Damen, together with Germany’s Blohm & Voss, is in the running for the German Navy’s Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180, a frigate-type surface combatant.
Berlin excluded a competing consortium of TKMS and Lürssen from that deal weeks ago due to what insiders said where insurmountable differences about the TKMS surface ship division’s approach to that program.
That move prompted backers of the only purely German-owned industry team to lament the loss of a purely Teutonic contender in the program. Notably, however, TKMS has shown no interest in challenging the MKS 180 exclusion in court.
It’s unclear how a new umbrella of German-Dutch naval jointness might influence upcoming program decisions. But officials said seeking avenues to bring the Netherlands in alignment with the German-Dutch sub buy may make sense in the spirit of coordinating such acquisitions Europe-wide.
Under the name “Apollo,” Germany and the Netherlands are working to fuse elements of their ground-based anti-missile capabilities.
Sebastian Sprenger is Europe editor for Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. He previously served as managing editor for Defense News.