In early February, the Dutch announced the sale of four frigates to Chile: two van Heemskerck-class air defense ships and two of eight Karel Doormans. The sale seemed part of a wider Dutch naval retrenchment that included the retirement of all the P-3Cs. However, it might have a broader significance. The Karel Doormans had been very well regarded for their careful and economical design. To many, they epitomized a European attempt to build optimized surface combatants, which could be contrasted with a U.S. tendency toward much greater size. Yet the sale, conducted while the Royal Netherlands Navy plans a second pair of big missile ships, suggests that navy now finds its tightly designed frigates less valuable.
World Naval Developments: Is Bigger Better?
By Norman Friedman, Author, The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems