This past year Europe was awakened to action by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As allies galvanize forces for the future and integrate Finland and Sweden into the alliance, a reenergized NATO is now more united than it has been in decades. From the modernization of naval weapons, to an increased investment in shipbuilding infrastructure; and from mine-neutralization in the Black Sea, to expanded engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the maritime assets and industry of NATO navies were at the vanguard in 2022—and will remain so in the future.
Belgium and the Netherlands
Belgium and the Netherlands are each acquiring six 2,800-ton mine-countermeasures drone motherships for delivery by 2030. The first will arrive in Belgium by late 2024. The two nations are cooperating on an antisubmarine warfare frigate known as ASWF, with deliveries planned for the late 2020s and early 2030s. The Dutch Navy will be modernizing two of its De Zeven Provinciën–class frigates with updated radar and surface-to-air missile (SAM) capabilities in the late 2020s. The Netherlands also is working with Germany on future air-defense frigates for service in the 2030s. Last year, the Dutch announced plans to replace aging Harpoon antiship missiles with advanced Naval Strike Missiles (NSMs) beginning in 2025. A new combat support ship, the Den Helder, was launched in October 2022 for service by 2025. The Dutch hope to finalize efforts to build four future submarines to replace the Walrus class beginning in the mid-2030s.
Bulgaria’s Black Sea mine-countermeasures forces have been heavily tasked this year. In June 2022, the keel was laid on the first of two 2,300-ton Hrabri-class missile-armed multipurpose patrol ships, based on the German OPV-90 design. The vessels are expected for delivery in 2025 and 2026.
The Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver conducted a freedom-of-navigation transit through the Taiwan Strait in September with the destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76). A new class of 15 7,800-ton frigates, based on the British Type 26 design and fitted with Aegis combat systems and SPY-7 radars, is expected to start production in 2024–25. Deliveries are scheduled to run from 2032 to 2049. The third Harry DeWolf–class Arctic and offshore patrol ship (AOPS) was delivered in 2022, and construction began on the sixth and final AOPS for the navy. Two additional units are on order for the coast guard. Two new 20,000-ton Protecteur-class joint support ships are planned for delivery in 2025 and 2027, and four large tugs are scheduled to join the auxiliary fleet by 2024.
Estonia and Finland are coordinating to better integrate coastal defense capabilities. The 180-mile-range Blue Spear antiship missile is expected to enter Estonian service in 2023, equipping mobile coastal-defense batteries.
France’s eighth and final Aquitaine-class frigate was delivered in November 2022 under the Franco-Italian Frégate Européenne Multi-Mission (FREMM) program. The first of five 4,500-ton Amiral Ronarc’h–class multipurpose frigates was launched late in 2022. Deliveries are scheduled to run from 2024 to 2030. The Auguste Benebig, the first of six 1,300-ton Patrouilleur d’Outre-mer (POM) overseas patrol ships, began sea trials this past summer and is expected in service next year. The first of four Jacques Chevallier–class replenishment ships is scheduled to enter service later this year. In October 2022, France announced intentions to join the Belgian-Dutch mine-countermeasures mothership program.
The first Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), the Suffren, was commissioned on 3 June. Five sister SSNs are planned for service by 2030. In March 2022, soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, three of France’s four nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) were deployed simultaneously for the first time since the 1980s. A new SSBN program is beginning to take shape to replace the Le Triomphant–class beginning in the mid-to-late 2030s.
Initial design work is underway on a new 82,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) to replace the Charles de Gaulle in the late 2030s. Three new E-2D carrier-based Advanced Hawkeye airborne command-and-control aircraft will be delivered by 2028. The tenth of 18 modernized Atlantique 2 land-based maritime patrol and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft was delivered in December 2022.
This past summer, Germany’s fourth and final 7,200-ton Baden-Württemberg–class frigate was commissioned, and the first of five 2,000-ton Batch II Braunschweig-class corvettes began sea trials. Delivery of the first of at least four multipurpose F-126 frigates is scheduled for 2028. Two 20,000-plus–ton double-hulled Type 707 replenishment ships will enter service around 2025. Two air-independent propulsion (AIP)–capable Type 212CD (common design) submarines are scheduled to join the fleet in the early 2030s under a joint German-Norwegian effort. Industrial giant ThyssenKrupp announced plans last year to begin expanding Germany’s submarine production capacity. P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft are expected to begin entering German service in 2024, and NH90 Sea Tiger NATO frigate helicopters are on order for delivery by 2025.
Greece signed a contract in March 2022 for three Kimon-class frigates based on the French Amiral Ronarc’h design. Delivery is expected by 2026. In September 2022, the seventh and final Roussen (Super Vita)–class guided-missile patrol craft was commissioned. Last year, the United States announced plans to transfer four retired Island-class cutters from the U.S. Coast Guard to Greece. Five Alkmaar-class mine-countermeasures ships are also being transferred from the Netherlands by 2024. New torpedoes are being procured for the Hellenic submarine fleet, and several patrol boats and Mk V special operations craft will be fitted with Spike Non-Line of Sight (NLOS) missiles in the next few years. Greece plans to acquire four new corvettes beginning in the late 2020s, and seven MH-60R maritime helicopters are on order for ASW.
Italy’s first two Paolo Thaon di Revel–class modular offshore patrol ships were delivered in 2022 under the Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura (PPA) program. At least five more are planned by 2026. The final two Carlo Bergamini–class FREMM frigates are under construction, with delivery planned by 2025. The navy’s new DDX program calls for construction of two 10,000-ton destroyers to enter service in the 2030s. Italy coordinates the European Patrol Corvette program and intends to acquire several 3,000-ton corvettes in the 2030s. The second Vulcano-class logistics support ship is expected for delivery in 2025.
The first of at least three Type 212 NFS (near future submarines) was laid down in January 2022, with delivery expected in 2027. A second unit is planned for delivery in 2029. The 33,000-ton big-deck amphibious assault ship Trieste underwent sea trials in 2022 and is being prepared for delivery in 2023. The Trieste can transport more than 600 troops and carry helicopters and stealthy F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) strike fighters. Italy received the first of 30 F-35Bs in 2022.
Latvia has announced plans to acquire the Norwegian NSM for coastal defense. The modern missile has a range of more than 100 miles and could be used against surface ships or land targets.
Lithuania will receive the retired British Hunt-class mine-countermeasures ship HMS Quorn in 2024, following extensive refurbishment.
Norway is coordinating with Germany to acquire four Type 212CD next-generation AIP-capable submarines. Delivery is set to begin by 2030. In May 2022, the Royal Norwegian Air Force received its fifth P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and in early 2023 announced plans to acquire six MH-60R naval helicopters for delivery between 2025 and 2027.
Poland continues to spearhead NATO’s assistance efforts for Ukraine. Early in 2022, plans were announced for three Miecznik-class frigates, which will be based on the British Type 31 design and are expected to enter service between 2028 and 2031. In 2022, the Polish Navy took delivery of its second and third 830-ton Kormoran II–class minehunters. Three more Kormoran II–class ships were ordered in June.
Portugal is considering acquisition of a large mothership for unmanned surface, submarine, and air vehicles. If built, the multipurpose ship could displace more than 10,000 tons. Six additional 1,850-ton Viana do Castelo–class offshore patrol ships have been ordered for service beginning in the mid-2020s.
Romania aims to enhance coastal defenses and mine-countermeasure capabilities and expand its maritime helicopter fleet in the future. In September the Musca-class minesweeper Locotenent Dimitrie Nicolescu was damaged attempting to neutralize a drifting mine in the Black Sea under adverse weather conditions.
Spain began construction last year on the first of five F-110 multipurpose escort frigates, which are scheduled for delivery between 2026 and 2032. The 6,100-ton F-110s will be fitted with Aegis combat systems and SPY-7 radars. The first of four Isaac Peral–class AIP submarines began sea trials in 2022 and is expected to enter service in 2023 under the S-80+ program. Three sisters will be delivered in 2024, 2026, and 2028. In the fall of 2022, Spain announced plans to acquire NSMs to begin replacing Harpoon antiship missiles. The country is also a member of the European Patrol Corvette program and hopes to acquire new corvettes from the 2030s.
The first of four Turkish Istanbul-class multipurpose frigates is expected to enter service by the end of this year. Deliveries of the second, third, and fourth frigates will occur in the late 2020s. The Piri Reis, the first AIP-capable Type 214TN submarine, began sea trials in 2022 and is scheduled to enter service in 2023. Six of the Turkish-built subs are being built under license from Germany for delivery by 2027. In 2022, Turkey conducted sea trials on the Anadolu, its new 27,000-ton big-deck amphibious assault ship. Delivered in early 2023, she is expected to operate as a drone carrier, operating dozens of unmanned aircraft or transporting more than 700 troops. A sister ship is planned for the future.
The United Kingdom recently commenced participation in the AUKUS submarine program with the United States and Australia. HMS Anson, the fifth of seven Astute-class SSNs, was commissioned on 31 August 2022. Two remaining sisters are under construction, with deliveries planned during the mid-2020s. The Dreadnaught-class SSBN program remains on track with construction underway on the first three of four 17,000-ton SSBNs planned for service in the 2030s.
The 7,000-ton Glasgow, first of eight ASW-focused Type 26 frigates, was launched in the fall of 2022. The class is expected to enter service between 2027 and 2035. Construction is underway on the first two of five 5,700-ton Type 31 patrol frigates, which are planned for service by 2030. A new Type 32 frigate remains in the conceptual phase and is not expected to join the fleet until the 2030s. The same is true for the Type 83 destroyer, which is expected to replace Type 45s beginning in the late 2030s. The United Kingdom selected the NSM to replace the U.S. Harpoon antiship missiles on at least 11 Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers beginning in 2023. Three large replenishment ships are planned under the Fleet Solid Support Ship program for service by 2032.
The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales suffered a propulsion breakdown in August and will be repaired by mid-2023. In the meantime, sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth has taken on additional duties as required. Thirty F-35B STOVL strike fighters were in service by December 2022, and 48 are expected to be operational by 2025. As many as 138 may eventually be acquired.