The Dutch Navy is considering the acquisition of short-crewed ships to support its frigates

With the Trific program, the Dutch navy is developing a short-crew ship capable of carrying modular capacities in the form of a container to support its frigates, the number of which continues to decrease.

Like combat aircraft, large surface ships such as destroyers and frigates have also seen their acquisition and implementation costs increase significantly in recent years. Thus, the OH Perry class frigates were sold to the US Navy and its allies for around $120m at the end of the 80s, or just under $300m in 2022 taking inflation into account, while frigates of the same relative capacity now exceed $600m, or twice that.

Not only have the material and human costs increased significantly faster than the budgets of the navies, but the latter have for several years encountered significant difficulties in recruiting and maintaining their personnel, as we have repeatedly echoed.

This is why many navies are considering turning to automated ships to replenish lost mass, and reinforce expensive but dwindling fleets of frigates and destroyers. This is particularly the case of the US Navy which has already experimented with several autonomous ocean surface ships, in particular the SeaHawk and SeaHunter demonstrators, during major exercises.

However, while the use of robotic ships tends to spread rapidly for light coastal units and autonomous underwater reconnaissance drones, the development of ocean-capable surface combatants still faces certain difficulties, in particular in terms of reliability, even causing some planners to fear an upcoming traffic jam from dedicated maintenance sites if necessary.

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The US Navy is actively engaged in the development of autonomous ships to increase its mass against the Chinese Navy

The Dutch Navy is no exception when it comes to mass loss. Thus, in the mid-80s, the 12 Kortenaer-class destroyers that entered service between the end of the 70s and the mid-80s were supported by 2 large Tromp-class anti-aircraft destroyers and 6 combat frigates. anti-submarines of the Van Speijk class, i.e. 20 large combat surface units, against only 4 De Zeven Provicien class frigates and two of the Karel Doorman class today, one of which is inactive due to lack of personnel , while the submarine fleet has decreased from 8 to just four Walrus-class ships.

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