Shipbuilder DCNS Expects ‘Severe’ Competition in Norway’s Submarine Tender

PARIS — DCNS anticipates a tough competition in Norway’s prospective tender for attack submarines, with a selection expected in mid-2018, senior executives of the French naval shipbuilder said.

“We will fight like dogs,” DCNS Chairman and CEO Hervé Guillou told reporters Wednesday. “Competition will be severe”.

The Norwegian Defence Ministry in April picked DCNS of France and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) for its short list of potential suppliers for a submarine fleet to replace the Ula-class boat.

Norway is expected to send out “technical specifications” in early 2017, with a response due at the end of 2017, and a “decision in mid-2018,” DCNS Marketing Director Eric Chaplet said.

DCNS will offer its diesel-electric Scorpene submarine, adapted to meet specific Norwegian requirements.

When asked about Poland, Guillou said relations between Paris and Warsaw may be strained but that DCNS does not involve itself in political issues but rather pursues commercial interest in the pitching of its submarines.

“We are a commercial company,” Guillou said. “If Poland needs a submarine, I will continue to pitch our best submarine”. Intergovernmental relations, which can go through highs and lows, are outside the company’s domain, he added.

Airbus Group had invested heavily in a Polish tender and now aims to take action after Warsaw broke off exclusive talks for a 50-strong order of the Caracal military transport helicopter, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said.

TKMS is the rival bidder in the Polish tender to replace a three-strong fleet of Kobben-class submarines.

On Australia, DCNS expects to sign in about six months a study contract, the next step in the Future Submarine Program following the signing last month of a design and mobilization contract, Guillou said.

DCNS in Cherbourg, northwest France, and the Adelaide port will work together for the planned Barracuda Shortfin 1A diesel-electric boat.

Some 35 Australian companies will be on the DCNS stand at the Euronaval trade show, reflecting the local interest in the submarine program. The naval exhibition runs Oct. 17 to 21.

DCNS would consider taking up a minority stake in the naval company STX, as it has a “strategic” interest in the commercial shipbuilder, Guillou said. The shipbuilder would count on the STX shipyard to build a next-generation helicopter carrier or an aircraft carrier.

If a European company acquires STX, it wouldn’t pose a problem, according to Guillou, but there would be concern if a Chinese company put in a bid.

STX, which is owned by a South Korean group, filed for bankruptcy last month, sparking concern over the future of the Saint-Nazaire shipyard.