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Datum: 25/10/2018

Euronaval 2018: Saab and Damen join forces for Dutch Walrus-class submarine replacement

Saab and Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group have joined forces to develop an expeditionary submarine for the Netherland´s Walrus Replacement Programme (WRES), the two companies stated at Euronaval 2018 exhibition in Paris, France.

The partnership was highlighted today in Paris during a joint press conference at the Euronaval international naval exhibition on the proposed Expeditionary Submarine.

“Replacing the Walrus-class submarines requires a unique approach. Swedish modular submarine design and production techniques coupled with the Dutch shipbuilding tradition bring together the capabilities needed to deliver an assured operational capability”, said Gunnar Wieslander, Senior Vice President, head of business area Saab Kockums.

“The result of the collaboration will be a customer-adapted submarine for expeditionary missions. This will ensure that the Royal Netherlands Navy continues to play an important role in European waters as well as globally”, said Hein van Ameijden, managing director of Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuildning.

The Expeditionary Submarine builds on the capabilities of the Swedish A26 and puts into practice the experience of the Swedish designed Collins-class submarine in-service with the Australian Navy.

In addition, the Walrus replacement will also benefit from the operational lessons reflected in the Swedish Navy’s Gotland Mid Life Upgrade. As a result the Expeditionary Submarine will be equipped with state of the art technology whilst benefiting from de-risking on three submarine classes. Saab and Damen are thereby creating one of the most modern Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarines in the world, which if selected, will be done in consultation with the customer using a ‘design to cost’ approach.

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Saab sub upgrade a blueprint for extending Collins life

The Swedish submarine HSwMS Gotland started sea trials at the Saab shipyard in Karlskrona, following a comprehensive mid-life upgrade (MLU) to ensure operational capability beyond 2025.

HSwMS Gotland is the first of two submarines being upgraded with the mid-life modifications, which consist of upgrades of onboard systems and technology, sustaining the submarine’s operational capability to meet future naval challenges.

Gunnar Wieslander, senior vice president, head of business area Kockums at Saab, said, “The sea trials mark an important phase in the MLU project. This is the first time the crew will be able to operate the new systems in the true environment. After extensive training in the land based training facility, they will now be able to see the true potential of their submarine.”

The process includes upgrades for many important systems, such as upgrading the Stirling air-independent propulsion (AIP) for longer duration underwater and the combat system. This also saw significant structural modifications with an expansion of the existing hull structure by two metres, adding enhanced cooling systems to increase the operating area profile, from both arctic to the tropics.

AIP systems allow conventional submarines to recharge their batteries without surfacing for air. This enables the submarine to remain underwater for extended periods of time, limiting their surface exposure and vulnerability to detection.

There are three main variants of AIP found in diesel-electric submarines, these include:

Closed cycle steam turbines: Used largely on French-build submarines, close cycle steam turbines mimic the energy production process found on nuclear submarines (where a nuclear reactor provides heat that turns water into steam) by mixing oxygen and ethanol. This system, dubbed MESMA by the French is complex, generates vast quantities of power, but suffers from efficiency issues compared with other alternatives.

Stirling cycle: Uses diesel to heat a fluid permanently contained in the engine, which in turn drives a piston and generates electricity. The exhaust is then released into the seawater. The Stirling system is slightly more efficient, and somewhat less complicated than its French counterpart, and is used on Japanese, Swedish and Chinese submarines.

Fuel cell: Is currently considered state-of-the art in AIP technology. A fuel cell uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, with minimal moving parts. Fuel cell AIP systems generate large amounts of energy with minimal waste production and acoustic performance. German-built submarines are world leaders in this space, with the French, Russians and Indians moving toward introducing the capability.

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