Frequently Asked Questions


On December 13th, 2019, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems was chosen as one of the three prospective parties to be selected as the Dutch government's official supplier set to replace the current Walrus class submarines.

Should thyssenkrupp Marine Systems receive the assignment, we will partner with DMI (Directie Materiële Instandhouding, the RNLN arsenal in Den Helder) ensuring valuable technological expertise falls into government-owned hands. By creating a "Submarine Valley", thyssenkrupp Marine Systems aims to help keeping the long Dutch submarine engineering tradition and to create up to 500 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs for a period of at least 30 years in the province of North-Holland


What differentiates you from the two other companies that are competing to be selected as the Dutch government's official supplier set to replace the current Walrus class submarines?

Every company in the competition has a unique offering. While we cannot talk for our competitors, what we can say is that over the past 60 years, we have been contracted to deliver more than 160 submarines for 20 navies worldwide. We therefore believe thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is a safe, reliable choice for the Netherlands. We guarantee technological excellence, reliability, and timely delivery at competitive prices based on more than 180 years of experience. We are actively involved in shaping European and transatlantic defence relations as 70% of NATO's non-nuclear submarine fleet was constructed by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. In the end, it is up to the Dutch Government to decide which offering they think is the best for the Netherlands.


What makes thyssenkrupp Marine Systems attractive for the Netherlands?


• Experience: Over the past 60 years, we have been contracted to deliver more than 160 submarines for 20 navies worldwide and are the world leader in non-nuclear submarines: 70% of NATO’s non-nuclear submarine fleet was constructed by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems We therefore believe thysssenkrupp Marine Systems is a safe, reliable choice for the Netherlands.

• Expertise: We guarantee technological excellence, reliability, and timely delivery at competitive prices based on 180 years of experience.

• International: We are actively involved in shaping European and transatlantic defense relations as 70% of NATO's non-nuclear submarine fleet was constructed by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.

• Market leader: thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is the world market leader in delivering modern, state-of-the-art, non-nuclear submarines equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP). Even though we would tailor the submarines to fit the specific needs that are specified by the Dutch government, we would not have to start from scratch when it comes to designing and engineering, as our starting point is the already existing HDW Class 212CD (Common Design). With its 2500 t, it is comparable in size to the Dutch Walrus submarine. We are the world market leader, with our HDW Class 209, 212A, 214 and Dolphin submarines, and the only provider of non-nuclear submarines to those NATO partners who do not have such capabilities in their own country. In this way, we significantly contribute to maintaining peace, freedom and security.

• Innovative: Our in-house expertise and Research & Development produce outstanding innovations and products. Continuous feedback from our customers worldwide enables us to produce state-of-the-art products, like our fuel cell-based air independent propulsion system which results in extended diving times and low signatures of the submarines.

• Local craftsmanship: The location at which thyssenkrupp Marine Systems submarines are built is flexible. In many cases, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems builds or partially builds its vessels in customers' country. In case of the Netherlands, we will enable DMI to do the final outfitting, setting to work as well as test and trials for the future submarines. The advantage is that the technical knowledge will be transferred to employees of the Netherlands Defense- and Security Technological and Industrial Base (NL DTIB). Additionally, up to 500 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs will be created in the province of North-Holland.


What does thyssenkrupp Marine Systems' "European family" approach entail?


Thanks to our prominent footprint in this field, we form international alliances between countries to share the costs of the design, development, manufacturing and maintenance of new technologies, saving costs and time while adding to the quality of the end-product: security. We invite the Dutch submarine force to be part of our European Submarine Family.

thyssenkrupp Marine Systems supplies submarines for coastal and blue water operations to more than 20 navies worldwide, including Germany and Norway.

The Netherlands can participate in the HDW Class 212CD program together with Norway and Germany. This approach will lead to sustainable partnerships and increase the opportunities for economies of scale, joint crew training, logistics, acquisition and sharing of expertise.


Why should the Netherlands join the European family?


The Netherlands will benefit from European cooperation, for example: through cost reductions of non-recurring costs, integrated logistics support, upgrade and modernization, training and crew exchange.

More specifically, participation of the Netherlands in the HDW Class 212CD program with Norway and Germany could lead to significant economies of scale, even with tailoring of technical specifications to meet specific needs of the Dutch governments, as there will be no need to start from scratch.


What's in it for the Dutch industry if thyssenkrupp Marine Systems wins the tender?


thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is developing a concrete proposal to combine the sustainment of the current HDW Class submarines and the completion and sustainment of the new Dutch submarines at DMI in Den Helder. thyssenkrupp Marine Systems will develop the Naval Arsenal in Den Helder into a "Center for Submarine Sustainment and Innovation" (CSSI) or "Submarine Valley" in short. Den Helder has great potential to develop into a European hub for subsea-related technologies led by employees of RNLN through expansion of capacity, bundling of experience and transfer of technology.

Through the development of Den Helder as a Submarine Valley, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems wants to contribute to knowledge-building in this domain. thyssenkrupp Marine Systems will play an active role in educating and training all involved personnel and ensure that the expertise of submarine outfitting, maintenance and sustainment is transferred to members of RNLN, as well as to Dutch companies and knowledge institutions involved in the project. With this, we help keeping the long Dutch submarine engineering tradition and establish around 500 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs in North Holland for a period of at least 30 years. In addition, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems will hire 30 trainees and interns and, as their education level is high, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems can create a lasting job perspective for young talents in the region.

This investment will be a strong impulse for the development of the region.


What are the political, military, and economic strategic benefits if the Netherlands choose cooperation with thyssenkrupp Marine Systems?


Firstly, we are neighbors. There is a strong existing relationship between our countries, also at military level. In the field of Naval Cooperation, there is the bilateral Sea-Battalion, the use of the Joint Support Ship Karel Doorman for transport of personnel and material, in the field of Army cooperation there is the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade as an integral part of the German 1st Panzer Division and the mixed German Netherlands Tank Battalion and the joint work in the field of Cyber Security. We are also jointly developing naval capabilities, such as SeaSpider (anti-torpedo torpedo).

Secondly, we are inviting the Dutch submarine force to be a part of our European Submarine Family, which will lead to significant economies of scale with respect to procurement, logistics, training and crew exchange. This means that more units can be produced with fewer costs per submarine. Last, but certainly not least, we will greatly invest in the region of North-Holland for the benefit of the RNLN. This will create about 500 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs in the Den Helder region.


How will Dutch industry benefit from the submarine replacement program? 


We have signed a number of MOUs with Dutch companies that will function as suppliers in the program, if we are selected by the Ministry of Defence to deliver the new submarines. For the outfitting of the vessels, we will partner with DMI, ensuring the submarine expertise falls into government-owned hands. In the industrial field of cooperation, we already have good working relationships with Dutch Underwater Knowledge Center members and knowledge institutes like TNO, MARIN and NLR and plan to further intensify these relationships. With this structure and these partnerships, we are keeping the long Dutch submarine engineering tradition alive and create up to 500 direct jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs for a period of at least 30 years, especially in Den Helder region, within the extremely stable structure of RNLN and less reliant on private companies, which could be acquired by international players.


How is thyssenkrupp Marine Systems proposing to share its expertise with the Dutch?


thyssenkrupp Marine Systems owns most of the underwater-related Intellectual Property Rights. This knowledge will be available for the Netherlands through the creation of the aforementioned "Submarine Valley" in the region of North-Holland. We will play an active role in educating and training personnel – both in RNLN as well as in commercial companies involved in the program.


What does the current phase look like?


According governmental official statement, after the B-phase (research phase), the DMOs' procurement procedure would have foreseen the C-phase. The actual program focuses a MOTS design as the baseline for adaption. Consequently, there is no need to develop a completely new submarine and the C Phase can be skipped. Therefore, the Submarine Capability Replacement Project will directly enter into the procurement phase (D-phase). The three contenders, including thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, will enter into discussions with the NL MoD regarding the materialization of the project, together with their guarantees for the replacement of the current Walrus submarines. The Dutch government expects to select their preferred supplier in 2021.


How sustainable are the HDW Class 212CD submarines?


thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is extremely committed to sustainability. As part of thyssenkrupp AG, we aim to minimize our own ecological footprint, as well as help our customers do the same. To this end, we are investing in the research and development of sustainable technologies such as water electrolysis (a way of converting excess energy into hydrogen, which can be turned into electricity again later), Redox flow batteries (they store electricity from renewable sources as chemical energy for later use) and biological treatment of wastewater. Furthermore, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is investing €250 million in transforming the primary wharf in Kiel to make it more modern and sustainable.

'Green' submarine

When it comes to the most environmentally friendly, or 'green' submarines, we take into account three different phases:

  1. the build, which has to be performed with the least amount of energy, raw materials and waste;
  2. the use, which should be powered as much as possible by renewable energy and reduce emission and waste;
  3. the dismantling of the submarines, which should lead to a minimal amount of waste and a maximum amount of recycling.

Designing for low ecological footprint during use

Our efforts start when we design our marine vessels: our end products need to be as clean and efficient in their daily use as possible.

For a submarine, submerged endurance time is extremely important. Using highly efficient equipment with low energy consumption is not only a good way of reducing the carbon footprint of a submarine, it is also essential to preserve the scarce energy available during a dive. State-of-the-art electrical systems with a minimum of loss due to conversion and the ability to re-use energy during battery maintenance charging are other factors that help reduce the CO2 footprint of the submarine.

Conventional submarines use batteries for their electricity supply. This seems to be a clean source of energy without emission during use. However, in order to charge these large batteries, diesel generators that do produce a fair amount of CO2 are used. The new HDW Class 212CD submarine is equipped with a more sustainable energy system: Lithium Ion Batteries. These batteries allow for a much better charging process with only one charging stage and therefore less fuel oil consumption and less CO₂ production. It is an ideal complement to the fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion system:

Hydrogen and oxygen are combined in the fuel cell system to deliver extremely clean electric energy. This energy is not only used for propulsion of the vessel, it is also used for life on board. The only by-product of this process is pure water. The lack of emission adds to the stealth of the vessel.

Recycling is a priority in the design of the new HDW Class 212CD submarine. Non-organic waste is collected in a special, air tight, container during the mission for later disposal in the harbour to reduce the impact on the environment. Even though there is space on board for a larger crew, the submarine is designed to be safely operated by a small crew. A smaller crew leads to less consumption and waste. The water in the bilges is collected and cleaned by an efficient de-oiling system, before being discharged to the sea.

The HDW Class 212CD submarine has a modular design, which makes maintenance far more efficient and environmentally friendly: Easy access is given to the parts that need to be repaired, thus avoiding damaging or dismantling the surrounding equipment. This prevents the instances where parts need to be replaced, simply because they were damaged in the maintenance of a nearby component.

Building consciously

While building these green submarines, we make sure we use the absolute minimum of resources in order to minimalize our ecological footprint. The materials we use are as environmentally friendly as possible. We are currently investing €250 million in transforming our shipyard in Kiel into a more sustainable production facility. The new shipbuilding hall, new infrastructure and the new machinery have all been designed to further reduce the environmental impact of our activities. Recycling of materials is now the norm, leading to a lower need of new materials and a reduced volume of waste. We are using renewable energy while building our ships wherever that is possible and we have reduced our energy need by using more highly efficient equipment and implementing LED lighting everywhere on the premises.

Safe dismantling and re-use after the lifespan

thyssenkrupp Marine Systems actively supports its clients in their efforts to sell their old submarines to other parties to maximize their lifespan. When the submarine is at the end of its lifetime, the modular design of the HDW Class 212CD offers a huge advantage: The submarine can be dismantled easily and any parts that are recyclable or re-usable can be extracted without causing any damage to those valuable parts or to any of the surrounding parts. Parts that can't be re-used are taken apart. All of the used material is documented in a Material catalogue to facilitate efficient recycling. Materials such as metals, plastic, rubber and metal hydride are recycled, leaving only a small percentage of the vessel as actual waste.

To learn more about our commitment to sustainability, please visit https://www.thyssenkrupp.com/en/company/sustainability.


Some maritime stakeholders have pointed out that the deferred decision in addition to continuing the procurement process with three candidates increases the chances of a second Walrus-affair (read article here). How do you respond to that?


thyssenkrupp Marine Systems' track record demonstrates that we can be a reliable partner. Over the past 60 years, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems has been contracted to deliver more than 160 submarines for 20 navies worldwide. 70 % of the conventional NATO submarines come from our shipyards. This valuable experience enables us to deliver proven technology within budget, 100% to specification, and within the contracted time schedule. The continuous design and building of submarines enable us to constantly be at the forefront of technology. We continuously and heavily invest in developing new, proven technology.


What does thyssenkrupp Marine Systems think of the MKS 180 procurement situation?


The German MKS 180 frigate procurement program was held under European Defence Tender Rules and is not connected to the Dutch submarine procurement. For questions regarding the MKS 180 procurement trajectory, please reach out to Stefan Ettwig, Head of Communications (T: +49 172 2490090, stefan.ettwig@thyssenkrupp.com)

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