Damen, Thales sign contract for four Dutch and Belgian ASW frigates

The Dutch Ministry of Defence, Damen and Thales have signed the contract for the design, construction, and delivery of four ASW frigates.


The frigates will measure 145 metres in length, with an 18-metre beam. They will have a draught of 5.5 metres 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. The ships will be armed with a 76mm gun, MK54 torpedoes, Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and the Naval Strike Missile. 

The frigate 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.

The new frigates will be deployable for multiple tasks, although the emphasis will be on anti-submarine warfare. The vessels will be equipped with a comprehensive suite of sensors to detect submarines. The technology used will create a fast, robust, and easily maintainable system that lends itself extremely well to further growth and continuous improvement.

The ASW frigates are the replacements for the current Karel Doorman-class of multipurpose frigates built between 1985 and 1991 by Damen Naval (then the Koninklijke Maatschappij de Schelde).

Eight M-class frigates were delivered, of which six were eventually sold to other countries, including two to Belgium. With the end of the service life of these ships in sight, the Netherlands and Belgium decided to jointly replace the ships with these ASW frigates. The first ship is scheduled to be delivered by Damen Naval in 2028.

Damen has contracted RH Marine to supply the Integrated Mission Management System (IMMS), the Integrated Navigation Bridge System (INBS) and the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) for each of the four frigates for the Dutch and Belgian Navies.

The systems supplied by RH Marine are based on the latest cybersecurity, network, and data centre 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.

“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,” explained Damen Naval’s Managing Director Roland Briene.

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.