Damen & Thales to design future Anti Submarine Warfare frigates for Belgium & Netherlands

According to information published by the Dutch MoD on June 30, 2023, the Defense Department will collaborate with Damen and Thales Netherlands to develop, manufacture, and supply four cutting-edge Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 A model of the future Anti Submarine Warfare, ASW, frigate. (Picture source: Defensie)

The Dutch and Belgian navies are each set to receive two vessels. Damen will handle the shipbuilding while Thales focuses on delivering an integrated radar and fire control system. Contracts were officially signed today by Secretary of State Christophe van der Maat aboard the Zr.Ms. Karel Doorman in Den Helder.

These ASW frigates will supersede the existing four multipurpose frigates operated by the Netherlands and Belgium, which have now reached their operational limits.

The Royal Dutch Navy is expected to receive its first frigate in 2029. Belgium's first ship will follow in 2030, with the remaining vessels delivered to each country by 2031.

According to Van der Maat, the procurement of these ASW frigates epitomizes a successful collaboration among nations, armed forces, and industries. The result will be a powerful, state-of-the-art weapons system that benefits not just the primary users, but also Europe and NATO.

The new frigates will be versatile, with a primary focus on distant submarine detection and combat. The on-board NH90 helicopters will assist in this mission.

Each frigate will have a displacement of 6,400 tonnes, a length of 145 meters, and a beam of over 17 meters. The frigates are designed to accommodate up to 117 personnel with extra space for an additional 34.

Furthermore, the frigates will be equipped with hybrid diesel-electric propulsion systems and designed for quiet operation, reducing their detectability by submarines.

In addition to cutting-edge weaponry and sensors, the frigates will feature an Under Water Warfare Suite for submarine threat detection, an Above Water Warfare System for detecting and neutralizing above-water targets, and a Naval Strike Missile for surface targets and ESSM Block 2 for air defense.

Thales Netherlands CEO Gerben Edelijn expressed delight at their selection to supply sensor and fire control systems for the Royal Navy's new ship class.

The Defense Department plans to procure these systems from dozens of companies, with some contracts scheduled for signing this summer and others due in 2024 and 2025. The two ASW frigates project represents an investment of approximately €1.9 billion.