In proposing an Expeditionary (‘E’) variant of the HDW Class 212CD (Type 212CD) design already an order for the navies of Norway and Germany, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is pitching a military off-the-shelf solution which, notwithstanding some adaptations to meet the specific requirements of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN), would be largely common to ‘sister’ submarines destined for the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) and the Deutsche Marine.
Company literature suggests a first delivery could be made as early as 2031.
Holger Isbrecht, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ programme director for the Netherlands submarine replacement programme, told Naval News at the recent NEDS 2023 exhibition that the company’s proposition boils down to one word – certainty:
“We think we are best placed to deliver at a fast pace because our proposal is based on an existing programme that is already under contract and moving into its production phase. Steelwork [fabrication] has started on the first 212CD at Kiel, and we will see the first boat in the water by the end of this decade.”
Norway and Germany in July 2021 confirmed a EUR5.5 billion contract with thyssenkrupp Marine Systems for six Type 212CD boats, with delivery of the first of class (one of four on order for the RNoN) planned in 2029. A substantive evolution of the earlier Type 212A design in service with the German and Italian navies, the Type 212CD is a somewhat larger submarine with a submerged displacement of around 2,500 tonnes (versus 1,450-1,500 tonnes for the Type 212A), a length of approximately 73 m (vice 57 m for the Type 212A), and a hull diameter of 10 m (compared to 7 m for the Type 212A).
Notable features include lower acoustic signature, a significantly reduced target echo strength (attributed to a unique diamond shape outer hull), use of amagnetic steel for the pressure hull (to prevent localisation by amagnetic anomaly sensors), advanced fuel cell technology, enhanced sensors, and updated command and weapon control. In the latter case, kta naval systems (a joint venture between thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Atlas Elektronik and Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace) has been contracted to supply its ORCCA combat system.
“The Type 212CD E design proposed for the Netherlands shares the same core systems and components as the CD in order to manage risk,” said Isbrecht. “The pressure hull diameter is also the same.
“The difference lies in a hull insert to increase fuel capacity for longer endurance, and improve accommodation space for extended missions. The result is a slightly larger submarine of just over 80 m length and about 3,000 tonnes displacement.”
The build strategy being put forward by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ for the Type 212CD E is deliberately focused on design and production in Kiel and Wismar (northern Germany). However, the company is at the same time promising to bring Dutch industry into its supply chain, and develop the naval maintenance facility – Directie Materiële Instandhouding (DMI) – in Den Helder into a submarine support and innovation hub.
Isbrecht said that thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ recent investment in its shipyard facilities -including a new shipbuilding hall in Kiel, and the acquisition and upgrade of the former MV Werfen premises in Wismar – promised substantial gains in production efficiency and productivity. “The new construction hall [in Kiel] is expected to reduce the overall production time of each boat by 20%. This is a relatively unique and expensive resource which the Netherlands can benefit from. Given the pressing nature of the [RNLN’s] delivery schedule, we certainly think we are best positioned.”
He added: “Our analysis is that submarine knowledge and capability in the Netherlands is focused on the Den Helder region, so we are looking at the maximum involvement of DMI to sustain the class during their operational life. But beyond this, we are also looking to bring more Dutch companies into our supply chain.
“We already have some suppliers from the Netherlands for the Type 212CD. Adding more Dutch partners into our wider supply chain is extremely important to us as we need additional capacity and choice.”