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Kockums AB is a shipyard in Malmö, Sweden owned by the Swedish defence company Saab Group. While having a history of civil vessel construction, Kockums' most renowned activity is the fabrication of military corvettes and submarines.
Kockums worked with Northrop Grumman and HDW to offer a Visby-class corvette derivative in the American Focused Mission Vessel Study, a precursor to the Littoral Combat Ship program. It competed with several other concepts including Norway's Skjold class (part of a Raytheon led group).
The submarine conflict
Prior to 1999, Kockums was controlled by the Swedish state through the company Svenska Varv AB. Having implemented a highly advanced variety of the Stirling engine for low noise submarine propulsion, Kockums was considered to have strategic value for the Swedish Navy. However, in 1999, Kockums' main competitor on the submarine market, the German ship-building company HDW, acquired Kockums. In 2005, HDW was bought by the German industrial conglomerate Thyssen Krupp. The time after 1999 was beridden with conflicts between Kockum's only Swedish customer, the Defence Materiel Administration (Sweden) (FMV), and Kockum's German owners. The Swedish view was that the technical advancements made in collaboration between Kockums and FMV ought to be used to create a new generation of submarines for lucrative export: the A26 submarine. On the German side, the A26 project was said to be regarded as a high-risk project that could lead to uncontrollably growing costs. Superficially, the major source of conflict seemed to be that neither ThyssenKrupp nor FMV would not accept carrying unforseen development costs. As several technical innovations to be implemented in the A26 were kept in classified status at the FMV, ThyssenKrupp argued that the implied costs were too difficult to predict. This deadlock persisted for months until the FMV decided to cancel the order of the A26 submarines.
Globally, the conflict also concerned the general business strategy. ThyssenKrupp insisted that Kockums ought to discontinue large submarine construction and to focus on the development of small submarines. Meanwhile, anonymous sources from inside Kockums claimed that ThyssenKrupp's goal in acquiring Kockums was never to reach synergies with HDW, but only to eliminate its main competitor.
When the Crimea crisis erupted, Sweden's defence interests in the future of Kockums came under closer scrutiny. The turning point was described by the chairman of the Swedish parliament’s Standing Committee on Defense (SCD), Peter Hultquist:
The wheels have turned. The government, possibly in response to Russia’s aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, has decided that a strong industrial defense capacity that is Swedish-controlled will be the cornerstone that underpins defense policy and future capability.
In the search for a partner to develop the next generation of submarines, the FMV approached the SAAB Group. During autumn 2013, Saab tried to reach an agreement to buy Kockums from ThyssenKrupp. ThyssenKrupp demanded to keep its monopoly position in the A26 deal, which Saab refused to accept, causing the negociations to fail. Saab responded by approaching Kockums' engineers, offering them employment at Saab Naval Systems. Thyssen Krupp tried in vain to keep its engineers at Kockums, proposing an extra month’s salary.
The hositility towards ThyssenKrupp reached a new level on 8 April 2014, when two military trucks, accompanied by armed soldiers, came into the Kockums shipyard in Malmö to claim all material belonging to the FMV. Shortly after, ThyssenKrupp initiated discussions to sell Kockums to Saab. The deal was finalized on 22 July 2014, making Saab the new owner of Kockums.
The Kockums Crane
The shipyard formerly possessed a 138 metre high crane, known as the Kockums Crane, built in 1973/74 and capable of lifting 1500 tons, which was the largest crane in the world when it was installed in 1974. The crane was not used much because of the Swedish shipyard crisis of the late 1970s and 1980s. It was used the last time in 1997 for lifting the foundations of the high pillars of the Oresund Bridge.
The crane was sold the first time in the early 1990s to the Danish company Burmeister & Wain but the company went bankrupt shortly thereafter. It was later sold to Korean company Hyundai Heavy Industries. The crane was a landmark of Malmö from its time of construction until its dismantling to be shipped to Ulsan in South Korea in summer 2002.
Ships built by Kockums
- M/T Frans Suell
- MV Sovetskaya Latviya
- Visby-class of stealth corvettes
- Landsort-class mine countermeasures vessel
- Styrsö-class mine countermeasures vessel
- Näcken-class submarine
- Västergötland-class submarine
- Södermanland-class submarine
- Gotland-class submarine
- HMS Orion (A201)
- Unmanned surface vehicle Piraya
Ships built with Kockums technology
- Collins-class submarines
- Archer-class submarines (updated Västergötland class)
- Sōryū-class submarines
- A26 submarine (replacement of the Södermanlands class submarine)
- "Saab completes acquisition of TKMS AB (Kockums)" (press release). Saab. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "Sanningen om den hemliga gryningsräden mot Kockums" [The truth about the secret dawn raid on Kockums] (in Swedish). SE: Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Kleja, Monica. "Spelet som fick Thyssen Krupp att ge upp Sverige" [The game that got Thyssen Krupp to give up Sweden] (in Swedish). SE: Ny Teknik. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- "Sweden's Goals Fuel Saab's Acquisitions". Defense News. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Abrahamson, Håkan. "Klart att Saab köper Kockums" [Clearly Saab buying Kockums] (in Swedish). SE: Ny Teknik. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Larsson, Mats. "Kockums AB". Nationalencyklopedin (in Swedish). SE. Retrieved 12 September 2010. (subscription required)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kockums AB.|
- Kockums web site
- Kockums Stirling AIP System
- Pictures of the Kockum crane
- ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems
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