Damen books contract for advanced ASW frigate quartet

Written by Nick Blenkey
Rendering of ASW frigate

The new ASW frigates can be deployed for multiple tasks; however, the emphasis will be on anti-submarine warfare. [Image: Damen]

The Dutch Ministry of Defense, Damen and Thales have signed acontract for the design, construction, and delivery of four Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates; two for the Netherlands and two for Belgium. The agreement was signed on HNLMS Karel Doorman, one of the current Karel Doorman Class multipurpose frigates that the ASW frigates will replace.

The new frigates can be deployed for multiple tasks; however, the emphasis will be on anti-submarine warfare. The ships will have hybrid diesel-electric propulsion and will be designed to sail as quietly as possible to lower the risk of detection by submarines. On board will be a comprehensive suite of sensors to detect submarines.

“This is a wonderful project and a special new chapter for our Damen Naval division,” said Damen Shipyards Group CEO Arnout Damen. “We are proud to be building these beautiful frigates and look forward to working with the many, mostly Dutch, partners and suppliers on this project. With these launching customer projects, we retain vital knowledge in our own country and thus maintain our place in the world’s top tier of complex naval construction. More importantly, the crews of the Dutch and Belgian navies get state-of-the-art frigates to carry out their crucial tasks.”

The project is a joint operation with the Dutch Ministry of Defense, with some of the work to be carried out by the ministry itself.

“We have almost 150 years of knowledge, skill, and technology to coordinate and execute the design and construction of complex naval vessels,” said Arnout Damen. “This is done not only in the Netherlands, but also at our yard in Romania, where the hulls will be partly constructed.”

The hulls will go to Damen Naval in Vlissingen, Netherlands for completion, the installation and integration of weapon systems and, ultimately, commissioning for deployment to the Belgian and Dutch navies.

The frigates will measure 145 meters in length, with an 18-meter beam. They will have a draft of 5.5 meters at a displacement of 6,400 tonnes. On board, there will be room for a 117-strong crew and capacity for additional personnel to sail with them.

Among other things, the ASW frigates will be equipped with an Under Water Warfare Suite (UWWS), an Above Water Warfare System (AWWS) and underwater decoys.

They will be armed with a 76 mm gun, MK54 torpedoes, rolling airframe missiles (RAM) and the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The frigates can also accommodate other weapons, such as more powerful missiles and High Energy Lasers. There are also unmanned craft and aircraft on board for use on and under water as well as in the air.


Thales will deliver the AWWS fire control cluster. This continuously generates the best solution for each approaching threat in every environment. The cutting-edge warfare suite helps the ship’s crew to counter and neutralize high-velocity and complex saturation attacks by continuously analyzing and optimizing the tactical environment and deployment of resources. This integrated radar and fire control system combines the information from several sensors, including radars.

This is the second contract for Thales’ AWWS fire control cluster after the German F126 class frigates contracted in 2020. Deployment of this common fire control cluster in three West European navies will facilitate international cooperation in operations and in logistics.

The new sensor suite uses Thales’ latest technology based on the APAR Block 2 X-band and the SM400 Block 2 S-band radars integrated in a one-radar system that is able to reconfigure its tasks dynamically.

In addition to AWWS, Thales will supply the Mirador Mk2 electro-optical fire control sensor, the Gatekeeper Mk2 electro-optic observation sensor, the Scout Mk3 low detectability naval surveillance radar as well as an extensive logistic support package.

Thales says that the frigates need to be able to independently defend themselves and other units with a state-of-the-art fire control system as above water threats are exponentially increasing in complexity, coordination and speed. Thales says that its systems are cyber-protected by design a will protect the Dutch and Belgium frigates from sophisticated threats such as hypervelocity missiles and swarm attacks.


The first Dutch supplier contracted for the ASW frigates by Damen Naval is RH Marine. It will supply the Integrated Mission Management System (IMMS), the Integrated Navigation Bridge System (INBS) and the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) for each frigate.

“One of our objectives is that we want to share the enormous knowledge accumulation we gain from this kind of high-quality, launching customer project with as many Dutch suppliers as possible. This way, the Netherlands maintains its place in the world’s top tier of complex naval construction and strengthens our position within existing and new European partnerships,” said Damen Naval’s managing director, Roland Briene. “This contract with RH Marine is an excellent example of that. We have been working closely together for many years and once again I am looking forward to a great project with a wonderful end result.”

The systems supplied by RH Marine are based on the latest cybersecurity, network, and data center technology, on which RH Marine’s next-generation platform automation, bridge and mission management applications will run. The systems will allow the ship to operate with a smaller crew, with a much higher and smarter degree of automation supporting them.

RH Marine’s IPMS system uses Industrial Internet Of Things (IIoT) connectivity, which gives the platform flexibility in connection and configurability. This connectivity also provides the ability to store huge amounts of data from connected systems and sensors. Analysis of these data can be used to improve operational processes and support predictive maintenance.

ASW frigates
Image: Damen
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