Koninklijke Marine - Cold War
The force structure of the Royal Netherlands Navy changed very little over the 30 years 1950 to 1980, except for the elimination of a light carrier, but the missions of the ships changed. Plans were for the Netherlands to provide in the Atlantic and the Channel three escort groups (each with a leader, six frigates and an underway replenishment ship) and to operate in the North Sea a group of four smaller escorts and an offensive submarine force. She was also to operate mine countermeasure forces off her coast and in the Channel.
By 1980, thanks to the Kortenaer frigate program and the modernization of the Van Speijk class, her force of destroyers and large frigates, which consisted of 18 ships in 1951, would soon consist of 18 modern frigates. The submarine force, which has consistently contained around six units, was being updated by construction of two Walrus-class units. The Alkmaar minehunters program would help stop the decline of the Dutch minesweeping force, which fell from 52 to 21 MSO and MSC in the 1970s.
The ships that were needed for the fleet's missions but had not yet been ordered were one escort group leader to supplement the two Tromp-class missile destroyers and replacements for the existing smaller escorts, which date from 1954. Plans were being made to build a SAM variant of the Kortenaer-class to serve as leader and four 2500-ton M-class frigates for North Sea duty. The Dutch decided to buy 13 P-3C maritime patrol aircraft to replace 15 Neptunes. They also had seven Atlantics.
By 1983 the Netherlands was building two "Walrus" class submarines (to be commissioned in 1983 and 1984); four "Kortenaer" class guided missile frigates (two to be commissioned this year; the others in 1984-1985); and the "Alkmaar" class series of mine hunter-sweepers (15 vessels; first ship commissioned in 1982).
In addition, there were plans to complete construction of two more "Walrus" class submarines and four "M" class guided missile frigates, which would replace the obsolete "Wolf" class minor ASW ships [Corvettes], by the end of the 1980's.
The fleet in 1988 was being maintained at the level of modern requirements by means of a 10-year ship building program (1979-1988).
The composition of submarine forces should be renovated soon. Four "Walrus" class submarines were being built at the docks in Rotterdam. Transfer of the prototype submarine, the S802 "Walrus", to the navy was being postponed in connection with a fire that occurred in August 1986. The fourth submarine of the series was to be commissioned in the first half of 1993. It may be that another two submarines of this design would be built. "Dolfijn" class submarines built in the early 1960s would be gradually retired into the reserve, and in general, the submarine forces were to be maintained at a level of six boats.
Construction of four "Karel Doorman" (type M) multipurpose guided missile frigates was continuing; the work is to be completed prior to 1993. Another four were on order. Besides the Harpoon antiship missile system, these ships were to be outfitted with a vertical-launching 16- shaft system for Sea Sparrow antiaircraft guided missiles. In the early 1990s the navy would possess a rather powerful and up-to-date escort force consisting of 18-22 guided missile frigates.
Much attention was being devoted to improving minesweeping forces, which was also typical of other European NATO countries. Construction of a series of minehunters in the "Alkmaar" class (15 units in the "Tripartite" program) was close to completion. The navy would receive the last two ships in 1989. It was believed that a new class of minesweeper would be ordered in 1988 or 1989.
Modernization of P-3C Orion shore-based patrol airplanes is expected to begin in 1988-1989.
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