German Naval Yards, TKMS join forces on German MKS180 warship bid

German Naval Yards and thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) – two Kiel-based shipbuilders – are joining forces to compete against a Dutch proposal for the design and construction of the German Navy’s new MKS180 ships.

Photo: GNYK

TKMS signed an agreement with German Naval Yards Kiel (GNYK) on August 3 under which it will contribute to the development and construction of the 5,000-ton multi-purpose combat vessels MKS 180 (Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180) which the German Navy hopes to start receiving by 2023.

GNYK is the only remaining German main contractor in the EU-wide tender of the German Navy after the TKMS und Lürssen consortium was excluded from the tender in March this year.

Previous contenders in the program included Italy’s Fincantieri and French Naval Group but the two withdrew from the competition. The only other known international bidder is the Dutch Damen Shipyards with Germany’s Blohm+Voss as its bidding partner. Damen has earlier said it was ready to build Germany’s new MKS180 frigates at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg.

Announcing the agreement with TKMS, GNYK said that incorporating thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ teams into the MKS program would further increase the German share in the MKS proposal. The selected Marine Systems specialists will focus on the coordination and integration of combat systems and the intensive usability of naval vessels.

GNYK had previously contracted the US Navy supplier Alion for contributing engineering technology of the world’s strongest navy to its MKS 180 offer. The entire development and engineering of the vessels will take place in Germany. Further, the intellectual property rights and know-how related to the MKS 180 program would also remain in the country, should GNYK be selected.

“Our offer for the MKS 180 program becomes even stronger with the input of the two engineering houses Alion and thyssenkrupp Marine Systems,” said GNYK managing director Jörg Herwig. “Our combined skills and expertise are enabling us to address the needs of our customer and to serve the quality of execution in the best possible way. We are very happy to welcome thyssenkrupp’s engineers into our team with whom we have already successfully collaborated in the past,” Herwig added.

The German defense procurement agency BAAINBw will now supply the remaining bidders in the MKS 180 award procedure with a precise specification for the naval vessels and request a best and final offer (BAFO). According to TKMS, a final decision in the award procedure is not expected before 2019.

Germany had initially intended to build four ships in the class and later decide whether to build another two units, but the defense ministry subsequently announced it would buy all six units at once. The planned budget for the four ships was €3.9 billion (US$4.3 billion) while an overall price for six ships was not revealed.

MKS180 ships are expected to be capable of tackling targets above and below water in addition to supporting land missions.

Armament should feature a 127 mm naval gun while surface to air missiles should be capable of hitting targets at a distance of 25 kilometers thereby enabling protection from air threats.

The ships will be equipped with towed sonars for anti-submarine warfare and include sick bays or detention rooms for counter-piracy missions. Additional flexibility would be provided by an embarked helicopter and RHIBs for rapid deployment of boarding parties.