Dutch shipyard group Damen has signed a contract with the Vietnamese government aiming at a “step up in cooperation and transfer of technologies”, Jane’s Defence Weekly is reporting today. The agreement was formalised in Hanoi by Vietnam’s deputy defence minister and Damen representatives. Damen entered into a joint venture in 2007 with Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin) and is building a new port on the north Vietnamese coast in a project run by Dutch engineering company Royal Haskoning.
Damen Vinashin Shipyard is focused on building a range of platforms, including offshore patrol craft and high-speed craft. Damen is also involved in the building of a multipurpose hydrographic and oceanographic survey, training and mine countermeasures vessel, a derivative of the Snellius class ships built for the Dutch Navy.
Damen Offshore Patrol Vessel 1800
Vietnam has embarked on a major arms purchasing programme, most importantly through an estimated $2- 2.5 billion package deal with Russia signed in December 2009, including 6 Kilo Class submarines with torpedoes and missile and 12 SU-30MKK fighter jets. Press reports mention China’s growing military as one factor that has influenced Vietnam’s recent military posture. Remarkably, China was Russia’s last major customer of submarines, ordering 8 subs in 2002.
The weapons purchases come amidst ongoing disputes over sovereignty in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea. Vietnam, China and other countries have competing claims over potentially oil and gas-rich island chains there, including the Spratly’s and Paracels.
Damen has expanded its export market enormously in recent years. Apart from major sales by its daughter company De Schelde to Indonesia (4 corvettes and 1 frigate) and Morocco (3 frigates) and a competition for an Omani order it has also sold many patrol vessels over the past decade to Albania, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S. Some of these were built in the Netherlands, others were (partly) built overseas through a transfer of technology, as has happened in the case of Vietnam, under a licence granted in December 2009.
(FS, 6 April 2011)