Walrus-class submarine

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The Dutch submarine Zee Leeuw of the Walrus class photographed at SAIL Amsterdam 2005.
The Dutch submarine Zeeleeuw, at SAIL Amsterdam 2005.
Class overview
Name: Walrus class
Builders: Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij
Operators:  Royal Netherlands Navy
Preceded by: Zwaardvis class
In commission: 1992-
Completed: 4
Active: 4
General characteristics
Class and type: none
Type: Attack submarine
  • 2,350 t surfaced,
  • 2,650 t submerged,
  • 1,900 t standard
Length: 67.73 m (222.2 ft)
Beam: 8.4 m (28 ft)
Draft: 6.6 m (22 ft)
Propulsion: 3 diesels, diesel-electric, 5,430 shp (4 MW), 1 shaft, 5 blades
  • 13 knots (24 km/h) surfaced,
  • 20 knots (37 km/h) submerged
Range: 18,500 km (10,000 nmi) at 9 kn (17 km/h)
Test depth: >300 m (980 ft)
Complement: 50 to 55
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Surface Search Radar:
  • Signaal/Racal ZW 07
  • Sonar Systems:
  • Thomson Sintra TSM 2272 Eledone Octopus
  • GEC Avionics Type 2026 towed array
  • Thomson Sintra DUUX 5 passive ranging and intercept
  • 4 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (20 × Honeywell Mk 48 or Honeywell NT 37 torpedoes
  • mines,
  • SubHarpoon SSM)

The Walrus-class submarine is the only submarine class currently in operation in the Royal Netherlands Navy. They have been in service since 1990 and are all named after sea mammals.


The Walrus-class submarines are unusual in that instead of a cross-shaped assembly of stern diving planes and rudders, they mount four combined rudders and diving planes in an "X" configuration. This tail configuration was first tested in 1960 on the United States Navy's USS Albacore, and has since been used by the Walrus class, all Swedish Navy submarines since the Sjöormen class, the Royal Australian Navy's Collins class, the German Type 212A and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Sōryū class.

Operational History[edit]

After the Cold War, the subs have been tasked for many highly confidential intelligence gathering operations (still classified) in the Yugoslavian region, Iran, Iraq and the Caribbean often on request of Allies, including the United States.[citation needed]

In June 2010, the Netherlands agreed to deploy one submarine to help combat piracy in the waters off Somalia.[citation needed]

In November 2016, the Russian Navy claimed to have chased off a Walrus-class vessel from a battle group that included the Admiral Kuznetsov.[1]

Upgrade program[edit]

In 2007, the Dutch cabinet approved an upgrade of the four operational vessels and recruitment of additional crew to improve overall operational availability.[citation needed] The upgrades were focused on near-shore operations and integration with new weapons,and include:

  • the migration from the then current MK 48 mod-4 torpedo to the mod-7 version
  • replacing one periscope with a non-hull-penetrating optronic mast from L-3 KEO which enables the submarine to capture HD footage both day and night
  • addition of a Mine & Obstacle Avoidance Sonar by ELAC Nautik
  • refurbishing of the pressure hull
  • introduction of a new combat management system

In November 2014 the Dutch Minister of Defence announced plans to replace the Walrus-class submarines[2] in 2025. By 2017, there is still no political agreement on the amount of new submarines to be ordered; nor the type and tasks it should be able to perform. However, it seems certain that they will be replaced, since the renewed Russian threat was regarded an incentive to invest in a new class. The Minister of Defence however delayed the replacement with two years until 2027. Roughly, there are two groups in the Dutch parliament; one in favor of replacing the Walrus-class by an equally capable class of large, expeditionary, diesel-electric sub and the other in favor of choosing a cheaper solution of smaller diesel-electrics, more to the likes of Swedish and German submarines. It is yet unknown where the new boats will most likely be built; since the Dutch RDM yard (the only Dutch yard capable of building subs) that constructed the Walrus-class closed its doors years ago.

Ships in class[edit]

All boats were built by the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij.

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Walrus 11 October 1979 28 October 1985
13 September 1989 (re-launched)
25 March 1992 In service
Zeeleeuw 24 September 1981 20 June 1987 25 April 1990 In service
Dolfijn 12 June 1986 25 April 1990 29 January 1993 In service
Bruinvis 14 April 1988 25 April/May 1992 5 July 1994 In service

General characteristics[edit]

  • Displacement: 2,350 t surfaced, 2,650 t submerged, 1,900 t standard
  • Dimensions: 67.73 x 8.4 x 6.6 m
  • Propulsion: 3 SEMT Pielstick 12PA4V200SM diesels, 1 Holec mainmotor, 1 shaft, 6 blades
  • Speed: 13 knots surfaced, 20 knots submerged
  • Complement: 50 to 55
  • Surface Search Radar: DECCA 1229
  • Sonar Systems: Thomson Sintra TSM 2272 Eledone Octopus, GEC Avionics Type 2026 towed array, Thomson Sintra DUUX 5B passive ranging and intercept
  • Fire Control: HSA SEWACO VIII action data automation, GTHW integrated Harpoon and torpedo FCS
  • Armament: 4 x 21 inch (533mm) torpedo tubes (20 Honeywell Mk 48 or Honeywell NT 37 torpedoes, mines, SubHarpoon SSM)



  1. ^ "Russia ships 'chase away' Dutch submarine in Mediterranean". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Tomkins, Richard (22 January 2015). "Swedes, Dutch partner for future submarine work". UPI.com. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 

External links[edit]