COLOGNE, Germany — The Netherlands would be welcome to join a German-Norwegian submarine acquisition program, even as the door is closing for final design work on the boats, the Norwegian defense ministry said.

The statement comes as German defense industry officials have talked for weeks about what they believe is an impending move to reshuffle big-ticket shipbuilding programs by way of a new naval cooperation umbrella with the Dutch. In that telling, The Hague would join the purchase of 212CD-class submarines, built by Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems’ undersea division, and gain a say in the fate of Germany’s Mehrzweck-Kampfschiff 180 frigate program, from which the surface division of TKMS was excluded last month.

While Berlin and The Hague have officially kept mum about details, several German industry officials and analysts surveyed for this article believe the prospect of a Dutch move is keeping the MKS-180 programs fate unpredictable.

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