Dutch Shipbuilder Damen Wins MKS 180 Frigate Contract from Germany

mks 180 frigate
An illustration of the MKS 180 frigate for the German Navy. Image: BAAINBw / MTG Marinetechnik

The German government has selected Dutch shipbuilding group Damen as the main contractor in the construction of at least four multi-purpose combat frigates for the German Navy.

The MKS 180 frigates are Germany’s next-generation warships, described as an “all-rounder” multi-purpose combat ship with interchangeable mission-specific modules to cover a wide-range of naval missions.

Damen will work with German partner Blohm + Voss and Thales on the contract, which is still subject to German parliamentary approval.

The ships will be built at Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg and at other shipyard locations belonging to the north German shipyard group Lürssen, which acquired the Hamburg shipyard in 2016. Damen says that by working with Blohm + Voss, around 80 percent of the project’s total spend will take place in Germany. Electronic systems will be supplied by Thales Nederland, the Dutch unit of French multi-conglomerate Thales, with German units providing around 70 percent of the services.

With over 5.2 billion euros earmarked for the ships, the MKS 180 project ranks as one of largest naval contracts in the history of the German armed forces.

Following years of delays, German’s Ministry of Defence launched a tender for the four MKS 180 warships in April 2019, inviting bids from Damen and German Naval Yards, working with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The companies were given three months to prepare final bids and submit them to the Germany’s Bundeswehr.

Previously, a partnership comprising of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Lürssen was barred by Germany from bidding on the tender.

In a statement, Damen said it was very proud and satisfied to be chosen as the winning bidder.

“The only naval builder in the Netherlands is pleased with this selection to be main contractor in the German project and the division of work between German and Dutch industry. For the Netherlands, it provides national knowledge and expertise. This offers the Dutch Government the option, in the coming Dutch naval construction projects for frigates and submarines, to have these types of strategic programmes devised, engineered, managed and deployed in their own country,” Damen said.

The 155-meter ships will displace up to 9,000 tonnes, with berth for 110 permanent crew and up to 70 additional passengers, which will make them largest warships in the German Navy fleet. With an expected lifespan of 30 years, the vessels will be capable worldwide operations.

Delivery of the frigate is expected in 2023.

A final decision from Germany parliament is expected in Spring 2020.