Robotic anti-submarine warfare ships will accompany the 2 future Dutch ASW frigates

To replace the Karel Doorman-class anti-submarine warfare frigates, the Koninklijke Marine, the Royal Netherlands Navy, has undertaken the construction of two new frigates, co-developed with Belgium by Damen, currently under construction, and designated, today, by the term M-Fregat.

These ships will have the role of providing anti-submarine escort for the Capital Ships of the Koninklijke Marine, as well as its allies, in the North Sea and in the North Atlantic, in particular against the growing threat posed by the fleet. Russian submarine, in full evolution.

It is precisely to respond to this evolution of the Russian threat that the Koninklijke Marine announced its intention to equip its new frigates with robotic ships intended to increase their anti-submarine warfare potential, without degrading the pressure in terms of of human resources, which it must face.

Faced with HR challenges and increasing threats, the Dutch Navy is betting on robotic ships

Indeed, if the Netherlands has been, in many aspects, exemplary in Europe, with regard to the increase in its defense effort, which began in 2017 with the trauma of MH17, the Dutch armies are still facing , like all their Western counterparts, to growing tension in terms of human resources.

Karel Doorman class frigate Dutch Navy
Frigate Van Hamstel, last unit in service of the Karel Doorman class.

In fact, it is impossible for the Dutch Navy to increase the number of its military ships, even taking into account the significant reduction in crew size on modern naval units. Thus, today, the Van Speijk frigate, second and last unit of the Karl Doorman class in service, is in reserve, faced with the impossibility, for the Koninklijke Marine, of providing it with a complete crew.

To respond to rising tensions and threats, without increasing the number of hulls, the Dutch Navy has undertaken to turn massively towards the robotization of its fleet.

A few months ago, she presented her roadmap in this area to the Dutch Parliament. This was based on three main programs. First, with the MICAN program, formerly called Trific, it intends to equip itself with auxiliary combat ships, around sixty meters long, equipped with a limited crew, and able, if necessary, to act in complete autonomy.

The MICANs will thus be equipped with mission modules allowing them to carry additional munitions and sensors, for the benefit of the frigates they will accompany, to increase their effectiveness.

robotic ships MICAN Dutch Navy
Illustration of the MICAN program.

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