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Naval Group tests lithium batteries for future Dutch Orka class submarines.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Naval Group on March 26, 2024, the French firm, alongside its partner TNO Nieuws, carried out a series of tests on Lithium Ion batteries designed for submarine use.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Lithium-ion batteries. (Picture source: Naval Group)

The Royal Netherlands Navy plans to introduce the Orka-class submarine, aiming to replace the older Walrus-class submarines and improve its underwater capabilities. This initiative began in November 2014, when the Dutch Minister of Defence, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, announced the plan for four next-generation submarines, initially set to be operational by 2025. However, this timeline has been adjusted, with the first submarines now expected to enter service between 2034 and 2037.

The replacement program has been influenced by political discussions and strategic assessments, focusing on the submarines' desired capabilities and cost-effectiveness. These debates reflect wider considerations about the Netherlands' defense strategy amid changing global threats. The location for building the new submarines remains undecided, especially after the closure of the Dutch RDM shipyard, historically significant for the country's submarine construction.

In March 2018, the government confirmed its commitment to upgrading its submarine fleet by allocating over 2.5 billion euros for the new class. This decision highlights the continued emphasis on maintaining capabilities similar to those of the Walrus-class for operations in various marine environments, ensuring the Royal Netherlands Navy's effectiveness and versatility.

On 16 November 2022, the Dutch Ministry of Defence moved forward with the program by requesting quotations from three pre-selected shipyards, leading to the selection of a design expected by late 2023 or early 2024. This step marks significant progress toward starting the construction of the new submarines.

Among the candidates, the partnership between Damen Group and Saab Group, offering a design based on the A26 submarine, was notable for its advanced features. Naval Group and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems also participated, showcasing their latest technologies. Eventually, Naval Group won the contract, as announced by State Secretary for Defence Christophe van der Maat on 15 March 2024. This decision has initiated discussions on choosing a foreign shipyard for a key national defense project.

The Orka-class submarines, with names Orka, Zwaardvis, Barracuda, and Tijgerhaai, are expected to bring significant advancements in technology. With specifications including a displacement of 3,300 tonnes, a length of 82 meters, and armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles, these submarines are designed for stealth, endurance, and flexibility.

Their diesel-electric propulsion system, enhanced by lithium-ion batteries, will extend their operational range. This project is part of the Netherlands' commitment to maritime security and strategic adaptability in the 21st century.

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