September 7, 2015

Poland Contemplating Joint Submarine Buy With Norway and Netherlands

European Union (EU) members and joining date up to 2013. Poland (and the 3 uneasily small "Baltic States") only joined the EU in 2004. A joint submarine buy would be an additional way for Poland to signal it is really part of the EU and NATO and not still a satellite state of Putin's Russia. While Norway is not an EU member it is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which participates in the EU's single market. Norway is also associated with Poland and the Netherlands through their shared NATO membership. Russia owns the Kaliningrad enclave (with its main Baltic Fleet Base) between Poland and Lithuania. 

Here is a new article from The Nordic Page, September 9, 2015 on the Norwegian viewpoint. The article has some very sensible things to say about replacement submarine buying. 


"Poland may buy submarines with other NATO members: minister

WARSAW - Poland may join forces with other NATO members such as Norway or the Netherlands to buy submarines in a bid to cut costs, instead of buying them alone, Deputy Defence Minister Czeslaw Mroczek said on Sunday.

The ministry had planned to buy three submarines with delivery set for 2020-25 and at a cost of 7.5 billion zlotys ($2 billion) in a tender due to be launched at the start of this year.

This was postponed when Poland decided to change the contract specification to arm the fleet with maneuvering [cruise] missiles.

"We are considering obtaining submarines, for instance together with Norway or the Netherlands," Mroczek told state news agency PAP.

He said work was being completed on the initial specifications for the fleet. The aim of partnering up with NATO members was to save on costs, PAP reported him as saying.

"From the point of view of the procedure and how we do it - whether in one or two proceedings - will depend on if we buy the submarines alone or as a joint project of two or more NATO members," he said.

According to PAP, French industrial group DCNS, Swedish Saab Kockums and German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems have shown interest in a tender for building the submarines.

…Asked to comment on the deputy minister's announcement, Dutch Defence Ministry spokeswoman Lisa Hartog said the Dutch government was in talks with countries that it cooperates with on naval strategy on replacing its "Walrus" class submarines in the coming years.

"What we're going to be doing, in concrete terms, will only be decided toward the end of this year," Hartog told Reuters.

The Norwegian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Marita Wangberg said Poland could potentially qualify as a partner in the purchase of submarines.

"A future acquisition is yet to be decided, but as part of the process, cooperation with other countries is being assessed. In such cases Poland can be a relevant candidate," Wangberg said.

(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski in Warsaw, Stine Buch Jacobsen in Oslo, and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)." See WHOLE ARTICLE.


It is difficult enough for countries to decide on their own new submarine requirements let alone attempting a joint purchase with other customer countries. That may be one reason why joint purchases so rarely happen. Bilateral or multilateral politico-military bonds help. Poland, Norway and the Netherlands are joined by being members of NATO and Poland and the Netherlands are in the European Union (which includes arms trade issues in common). There is a web of less known arrangements (which special correspondent "Kevin" has identified in Background at the bottom of this post). 

As reported in Submarine Matter's Netherlands Needs New Submarine's Quickly, July 31, 2015, the Netherlands has been contemplating a joint strategy with Norway in procuring replacement submarines. One problem is that these countries have had very different needs - hence bought or built very different submarines. Norway has been an established buyer of (Ula and Kobben class) submarines of 1,000 tons or less while the Netherlands has regularly built submarines of over 2,000 tons (most recently the Walrusses).

In Two A26s Odered by Sweden, July 1, 2015, I commented that a smaller version of Sweden's future A26 might perhaps be exported to Poland (a current Kobben owner) and Norway and larger A26 version to the Netherlands.

Other possible builder-seller countries may be France (marketing Scorpenes) (see the two Youtubes below ) and Germany (marketing Type 210mods, 214s, 216s and possibly 218s).

A Scorpene exhibited by DCNS at MSPO 2015, the International Defence Industry Exhibition,  Kielce, Poland, September 1-4, 2015. DCNS is marketing Scorpenes for Poland's ORKA submarine replacement program. This Scorpene solution (Youtube above) includes a second generation AIP (using fuel cell (diesel fragmenter)) and a long range MBDA's Naval Cruise Missile (NCM) which (important for Poland) has a land attack capability. See Naval Recognition's longer article on this Scorpene solution for Poland.

The Scorpene 1000 ("900 tons") drawing board design is another Scorpene solution that might be appealing Norway, Poland or other customers internationally. The claim (1 minute, 15 seconds in) of "No equivalent in littoral waters" may have forgotten the 1,000 ton Ula class built by TKMS and owned by Norway.


Kevin from the Netherlands in comments:

-  at and

-  on September 9, 2015 at 11:30 PM at I have placed parts into more correct English:


Kevin indicated the Netherlands may prefer to buy submarines from Germany as the German submarines will, at the end of 2015, be under Dutch Admiralty command due to a bilateral agreement outside of NATO or the EU.

He advised that there may possibly be mention of the Dutch (Walrus) submarine replacement program in the Netherland's September 15, 2015 "State of the Kingdom" speech.

He believes it highly unlikely that the Netherlands would want fuel cell AIP because Dutch subs operate without support ships and the hydrogen ingredient of the necessary purity is generally unavailable at ports.

He further states that Dutch submarines can support special forces rather than the Dutch Royal Marine operations.

Wider international naval force command and and structural changes 

Netherlands and Germany

The Dutch and German Armed forces are in the process of merging into one common armed force. This is seen as a precursor to a common EU Army.

The integration of the Dutch and German force`s is desirable but there are difficulties. The German Basic law dictates that the German armed force can be used for defence and peacekeeping only (much like Japan and like Japan they are movements to change that). In contrast the Dutch Constitution dictates that Dutch armed forces need to be used to uphold international law and intervene in humanitarian. More specifically that they need to bomb ISIL/Islamic State.

The Air Mobile Infantry of the Netherlands and Germany are already merged and under German command. There are plans to merge the last of the Dutch tanks [both Germany and the Netherlands use the German made Leopard 2 tank] and artillery with the German counterparts.

+ Belgian forces

Belgian warships were placed under Dutch`s Admiralty command in 1996 (officially the so-called BeNeLux Admiralty) once Luxembourg forces are added. They are based at Den Helder (see map) Netherlands.

+ UK Forces

Kevin advised the Dutch and British expeditionary forces (mainly the Royal Marines of both countries – already closely cooperating) are merging and being placed under British naval command/Admiralty.

They are also arrangements between the Dutch and the British about the use of the Dutch joint amphibious support ship Karel Doorman. And it is possible that in the near future that the Dutch landing dock platforms will also be transferred to the British Admiralty or will be included with de Karel Doornman under the Lancaster House Treaties (a Dutch opt-in).

Kevin's Broader European Alliance Comments

The European F-35 partners are talking about sharing training, maintenance and logistics facilities for the F-35.

European law is complex and full with exemptions due to entry negotiations and the freedom a member state have in interpreting European law

The European Arms trade is documented and regulated by the European Defence Agency (EDA)
The general rule for EU member states is that they should not buy arms outside the EU unless such weapons are unavailable in the EU. If the member wants to buy outside the EU it needs to clear it with the EDA. This is to protect the EU's military industrial complex. Since the Cold War EU member states have cut defence spending to a point that it threatens Europe's capacity to produce its own arms.

If Sweden can sell more fighter planes by buying Brazilian transport planes the EDA will look the other way because this deal will strengthen the European industrial complex.

For the Netherlands, the Dutch airforce is a clone of the USAF [the Netherlands has F-16s, Apache helicopters and is buying Reaper UAVs]. And the Dutch navy is co-developing the [SM-3 anti] ballistic missile (European theatre) shield with the US Navy, so Dutch warships are equipped with VLS. The Dutch cannot get more exemptions from the EDA.


Anonymous said...

Just to clarify. Like the first picture indicates, Norway is not an EU member state.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

Thanks for the correction. All fixed now.



Nicky said...

Hi Pete,

Why not, Germany, France and Sweden all make good SSK Submarines and it could be part of a long line of joint EU projects like the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter. I think with Submarines, if they have a common hull and systems are the only thing that is different.

Also, here's a News item that the Bangladesh are about to induct two Ming class SSK's into the fleet.

Vigilis said...

Hi Pete

Kevin's insights (BACKROUND ON THE NETHERLAND and GERMAN SITUATION),rumored or not, are certainly very interesting to less informed U.S. residents.

Sounds like it is time for our side of the Atlantic to have an inkling. Using in a devoted Molten Eagle posting.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Vigilis

Thanks for the tag and your is interesting:

"Article 42 of the [1992 Maastricht Treaty] Treaty on European Union provides for substantial military integration within the institutional framework of the union. Complete integration is an option that requires unanimity in the European Council of heads of state or government. For now it remains politically gridlocked considering the critical stance of the United Kingdom in particular.

Article 42 does also provide for a permanent structured cooperation between the armed forces of a subset of member states. As of 2015 this option has not been used, despite calls by prominent leaders such as former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt for a common defence for the Union. However the debate has intensified by the standoff between the EU and Russia over Ukraine."



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Yes Germany, France and Sweden make good SSKs. Natural national differences and commercial competition prevent a common submarine. The European allies do share the Link 11 communications system which could be seen as a common element in their submarine combat systems.

Thanks for about the two ancient Ming-Romeo class SSKs for Bangladesh. Funny when the Bangladeshi Prime Minister say "the submarines would join the navy fleet in the middle of 2016 Insha Allah". Ishallah means God Willing. Like saying I hope LockMart delivers on time, on budget, God Willing.



Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
Which I think for Poland, Norway and Norwegian, they want a SSK Submarine that is small and compact for them. Even capable of AIP as well.

Have you seen this article as well

Australia's New Submarines: Run Silent, Run German?

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Before Putin became militaristic over Crimea-Ukraine Poland and Norway wanting 1,000 ton subs would have been likely. But Sweden opting for a larger 1,900 ton design points to a Baltic preference for larger subs. Such subs that can carry extra heavyweight shots in the form of cruise missiles (to retailiate conventionally against Kaliningrad-Russia at least) and also large LDUUV capabilities.

Also the melting of Arctic ice is making oil in the Northern Arctic territories of Norway more accessible and worth defending by submarine (against Russian meddling). This requires subs with greater range - also pointing to a 1,500 - 2,000 ton sub.

Thanks for spotting looks like a good piller for an article I'll run tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

I would say the major reason for A26 size is that it was planned during the Expeditionary warfare era in Swedish military thinking, i.e. it was planned that the submarine would be used more outside the Baltic sea.

Before the Swedish navy started to plan for the A26, we had the Nordic Viking project, were Sweden, Norway and Denmark planned to construct one common class of submarine. The Swedish and Danish subclass were planned to be a smaller version of around 1100-1500ton while the Norwegian version would be a larger, up to 1700ton submarine. The project collapsed when Denmark decided that they didnt need submarines at all, due to their new doctrine of expeditionary warfare.

The Norwegian fjords are deep and they have direct access to the Atlantic ocean, so there is no real reason why they should need a smaller submarine, while the Danes and the Swedes would mostly operate in the Baltic sea.


Peter Coates said...

Hi /C

I assume "Expeditionary warfare era in Swedish military thinking" would mean long range into the Arctic and North Atlantic? Was Sweden ever interest in Expedition to the Mediterranean Sea or Middle East-Indian Ocean?

The A26 size may also be influenced by marketing concerns with the 1800 tonnes (surfaced) weight ideal to compete against Germany (or South Korea) and France in the Eurpean market and Asia Pacific market.

Interesting how Denmark dropped out. I suppose that Denmark only needed a sub that was much less than 1,000 tons for home defence and in any case cruise missiles, more patrol boats and UAVs might be better solutions for Denmark?



Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

No, the doctrine from 2000 was that Sweden was best defended not from Sweden but from Afghanistan etc. The politicians thought peace dividend had arrived and did major cuts of the armed forces and everything was planned for operations far from Swedish territory and against irregular or lightly armed regular forces. Therefor a need for a large submarine that can operate far from the Baltic sea and to be able to operate in tropical waters.

Denmark went even further in changing their armed forces, they didn't see any need at all for a submarine, "who needs a submarine in Afghanistan", so they disbanded the whole submarine force in 2004, and returned the AIP-equipped Näcken-class submarine they had leased from Sweden (called HDMS Kronborg in Danish service) to Sweden.
Personally I think a submarine the size of Näcken or Gotland would have been suitable for Denmark, anything larger would have been too large for their area of operation.


Nicky said...

HI Pete,
Not a problem and I suspect that Poland, Norway and Netherlands wants a SSK in the size and range of the Israeli Navy Dolphin II class SSK or in the Range of the Scorpene class SSK with AIP or Fuel Cell. Though I think what they are realistically looking at is something more like the Type 218SG.

Peter Coates said...

Hi /C [at September 8, 2015 9:29 PM]

Thanks for your response. Sweden was wise not rush into the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It now seems that the defence against threat from Russia in the Baltic is much more important for Sweden than the constant wars in Afghanistan-Middle East (that NATO and other Western countries are participating in).

Little is remembered/known about the outside the Baltic - quite an advanced sub in its time.

I think once the A26s are being built Sweden will be better placed to market subs to customers.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [September 9, 2015 at 9:21 AM]

The whole tenure of my article and outcome of the project is that different countries have different submarine needs including size. Joint buying is therefore rare.



Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
I think that Poland, Norway and Netherlands will have a different requirements for their submarines but will most likely have a common hull. Though for Netherlands, They need an SSK that has near Nuclear AIP technology. While Poland and Norway wants an SSK that can operate both in the deep and Littoral waters.

Anonymous said...


'(like the Belgian navy [is already?])'

The Belgian ships falls from 1996 under the Dutch`s admiralty (officially the so called BeNeLux admiralty, how is based in Den Helder (look in Maps were thad is))

"The Dutch and British expeditionary [surface?] forces are also merging and being placed under the British admiralty"

The Marine Corps mainly. There is already a close cooperation between the Dutch and British Marines, so it's logical to extend thad (plus there's a small problem with the Germans, Yes the Germans don`t have a Marine Corps but tere is more).

They are also arrangements between the Dutch and the Britsch about the use of the Dutch joint support ship de Karel Doorman. And it is possible that in the near future that the Dutch landing dock platforms will also be transferred to the British Admiralty or will be included with de Karel Doornman in The Lancaster House Treaties (a Dutch opt-in).

The integration of the Dutch and German force`s in nice but there is a conflict.

The German Basic law dictates that the German armed force can be used for defence and peace keeping only (much like Japan and like Japan they are movements to change thad).

The Dutch constitution dictat literally that the Dutch armed forces need to bomb ISIL
(The Dutch constitution stats thad the Dutch armed forces need to be used to uphold international law and intervene in humanitarian crisis).

So the Dutch need also a more aggressive parker and the Brits like to Bomb people and they also neighbours. So parker found for the expeditionary compounds of the navy.

(Dutch subs are not viewed expeditionary, but special forces)


Peter Coates said...

Here is a new article from The Nordic Page, September 9, 2015 on the Norwegian viewpoint. The article has some very sensible things to say about replacement submarine buying

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Kevin

I have placed your comments of September 9, 2015 at 11:30 PM within the article text above.

Your comments are very interesting and current.



Peter Coates said...

An update March 8 2016 about Norway's need to replace its old (launched late 1980s - early 90s) small Ula class subs

That UPI article says Norwegian "Ministry of Defense said discussions with several nations are also being held. Norway and Germany already have collaborated on submarines in the past, so "Germany is therefore a nation which it is natural for Norway to discuss a potential future submarine cooperation with.""

also see .