Following the surprise news that Lürssen is to acquire Blohm+Voss, a reliable industry source in Germany has confirmed the acquisition was prompted by the superyacht builder wishing to augment its military shipbuilding capability.
This accords with Peter Lürssen’s official statement that, in addition to increasing its refit and repair services, the buy-out allows Lürssen to, "utilise the competence and experience of the shipyard and its employees for the new build of complex naval ships and continue their production at the Hamburg site.”
He added the proviso that “the construction of yachts at the Hamburg yard will depend on the overall market situation and it is difficult to judge at this time."
The German government is in the process of tendering a contract to build four multi-role combat ships with a planned budget worth over 3 billion euros. Originally six ships were to be built, but the Department of Defense later cut the number to four with the first one entering service in 2023.
The decision whether to build a fifth and sixth vessel will be made at a later time. Blohm+Voss has already been working with Lürssen to build the German Navy’s F125 frigate class.
The Blohm+Voss facility in Hamburg covers around 421,000sqm with 92,000sqm of covered construction docks and 2,100m of quayside. Since 2011 it has been owned by British private equity firm Star Capital Partners after it purchased the yard from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Star Capital was reportedly demanding around 60 million euros, but the final deal is believed to be appreciably less.
According to our source, "Lürssen has a powerful ally in the German Social Democratic Party, in the form of Johannes Kahrs, an influential member of the Budget Committee and a known supporter of Lürssen in its bid to win the military contract together with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems."
The other principle bidders are German Naval Yards Kiel, who teamed up with British BAE Systems, and the Dutch-German team made up of Damen and Blohm+Voss.
Lürssen’s acquisition of Blohm+Voss, which is subject to approval by regulators, effectively reduces the field of competition and brings it one step closer to securing the hugely valuable contract.