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It was looming. Already on June 20, Norbert Brackmann, Coordinator for the Maritime Industry, expressed his expectations on the edge of a Maritime Parliamentary Evening Reception given by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Kiel: “It is planned to make a decision prior to the end of this year.” The day before yesterday, the Chief of the German Navy twittered: “Only 2 days left until the ‘best and final offers’ (BAFO) for the #MKS180 will be turned in.” And, indeed: today, Thursday, July 18, 2019, 2 p.m., the deadline for the submission of the BAFO expires.

German Naval Yards Kiel (GNYK) has used the deadline and submitted the final bid. The press release states: “Together with its cooperation partner thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, the company is bidding for the largest naval contract in the history of the German Armed Forces.”

This project is of great importance not only for German Naval Yards as the last remaining German contractor in the competition. In 2018, the MoD’s political leadership decided to set up a Europe-wide bidding for the procurement – a novelty. Together with its partner, Blohm und Voss (Hamburg), which belongs to the Lürssen shipyard group (Bremen), is Dutch Damen Shipyards competing. As by 1230 hours today, Damen confirmed that they also submitted an offer.

An Europe-wide tender may be appropriate in terms of European policy. As it concerns national military procurement, armament and economics it is controversial. The entire naval shipbuilding sector in Germany could benefit from such a contract. The suppliers are not only limited to the coastal regions, they extend republic-wide as far as Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

The procurement of four multipurpose combat ships 180 (MKS 180) is included in the federal budget with a total of €5.270 billion. For the financial year 2019, funds amounting to €195 million have been budgeted, for the following years a commitment authorisation amounting to €5.075 billion has been granted – an indication that the contract can still be awarded this year. An option for two more MKS 180, for which the Navy is advocating, has not yet been included in the budget. No details are known from the revision of the federal budget in March 2019.

It is now to be hoped that evaluation and awarding of contract will proceed swiftly.

A first big challenge for the new executive in the German Ministry of Defence. Her approach may provide clues for her future leadership.

Hans Uwe Mergener