Damen Shipyards Signs Contract for Construction of Four MKS 180 Frigates for German Navy

Damen Shipyards Group has signed a contract with the German procurement agency BAAINBw for the construction of four MKS 180 frigates for the German Navy on June 19, the company announced.

The contract, which marks the start of the design and construction phase, came following the release of necessary financial resources by the German Parliament (Bundestag) budget committee on June 17.

Damen is the main contractor for this complex project which it is undertaking, together with partners Blohm+Voss and Thales, in Germany.The combination of companies was previously declared the winner of a European tender; the largest in the history of the German Navy.

Approximately 80% of the project investment remains in Germany as added value. The vessels will be built at Blohm+Voss in Hamburg, but partly also at other shipyard locations in Germany, including Bremen, Kiel and Wolgast. Besides this, approximately 100 small and medium-sized companies from the maritime industry, mechanical engineering and plant construction sectors will be involved in the implementation. These companies originate from almost all German states.

Hein van Ameijden, Managing Director Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding: “I am convinced that with the MKS-180 project, we are building a high-quality frigate that meets all the wishes of the German Navy. It is a German-Dutch project. We are already working well with our partners in Germany; Luerssen, Blohm+Voss, and Thales. The project also offers prospects for further European cooperation. The many years of cooperation between Damen and Thales as part of the Dutch golden ecosystem is an important factor in this success. If the Netherlands continues to invest in innovative projects for its own navy, we can further expand our role within European naval construction. That’s good for the Netherlands’ strategic role, which fits in with the Defence Industry Strategy.”

The German added value and knowledge development also apply to Thales’s mission systems acquired within the project. Approximately 70% is supplied by Thales’s German branches in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. This is done in close cooperation with numerous subcontractors.

Gerben Edelijn, CEO of Thales Netherlands: “This historic contract for both the German Navy and Thales is a significant milestone in more than 50 years of cooperation, and confirms our worldwide leading position in the field of high-end naval mission systems. The women and men on board of these innovative frigates can rely on the latest technologies in the field of cyber defense, radar and fire control. The AWWS system, developed for the Netherlands and Belgian Navies, will soon also enable the German Navy to withstand threats of today and the coming decades.”

The implementation of the project will begin soon and involves the delivery of four frigates between 2027 and 2031 for an amount of approximately 4.6 billion euros. There is also an option to supply two more frigates after 2032.

German Naval Yards Kiel (GNYK) has recently withdrew its request to review the German Navy’s decision to award the MKS 180 multi-purpose combat ship contract to Dutch shipyard Damen.

Following the withdrawal of the review application, the public procurement tribunal officially discontinued the review procedure. With this development, Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding BV officially became the winner of the MKS 180 project.

German Navy MKS 180 Frigates

MKS 180 (Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180, Multi-Purpose Combat Ship) frigates are the new class of multi-mission frigates under development for the German Navy.

German Navy MKS 180 Frigate
Rendering of German Navy MKS 180 frigate. Photo by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS).

The frigates will be capable of being equipped with different installation modules designed for specific military missions. The modularity of the ships brings several advantages: mission modules that are not required can be stored and serviced regardless of the ship’s platform. The modules do not have to be procured for each ship and can also be purchased independently of this. In the event of changing operating conditions and further developed technology, only the module may need to be modernized. And the standardized interfaces onboard make it possible to develop new types of modules.

According to the German Navy, the MKS 180 frigates will be around 155 meters long with a maximum displacement of 9,000 tons.

The larger size of the new warships compared to the German Navy’s previous ships is because, among other things, they need enough space for the different modules. For comparison, the Navy’s operational F125 Baden-Württemberg class frigates are five meters shorter and almost 2,000 tons smaller. And these ships are almost twice the size of the F122 Bremen-class frigates.

The MKS multi-purpose combat ship will take on some features from the Baden-Württemberg class frigates including automation and low maintenance of the technical systems, as well as the multi-crew concept. This will allow these new ships to remain in the area of ​​operation for up to two years, while the roughly 110-strong crew rotates every four months.

The vessels will have a permanent crew of 110 personnel and will have the capability to embark on 70 additional personnel who specialize in the mission modules. The vessels are intended to have a service life of 30 years.

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