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Keel laying of BNS Oostende, first new Belgian mine countermeasure vessel


Construction of the first of twelve new mine countermeasures vessels has really started at the Piriou shipyard in Concarneau, France. On Tuesday, November 30, the keel is laid in the presence of officials from the Belgian, Dutch and French navies. At the same time, the names of the new ships were revealed. The rMCM program is a binational project with the Netherlands under Belgian direction and carried out by the consortium Belgium Naval Robotics.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Keel of BNS Oostende(Picture source: Jorn Urbain)


A push of a button by the Belgian and Dutch Defense Chiefs gave the starting signal for the assembly and finishing of the new "city class", the first ship of which is for the Belgian Navy. To give the ship a lucky future, the Chief of Defense, Admiral Michel Hofman, as well as the Dutch Commander of the Armed Forces, General Onno Eichelsheim, soldered a Belgian 2 euro 2021 coin on the keel of the ship. The first delivery is scheduled for the end of 2024 when the ship enters the port of Zeebrugge. All ships should be ready by 2030.

Today's mine hunters are over 30 years old. “In the 2015 NATO 'OM' (Maritime Operations) study, the main shortcomings of on-board systems were: slow operation, poor mine 'discrimination', inability to detect buried and drifting mines , self-defense and the ability of platforms to be easily projected around the world, ”said Belgian Defense Chief Admiral Michel Hofman. “It was already obvious that the existing conventional platforms could not provide an answer to all these challenges. That’s why we were looking for a reliable partner to achieve this small revolution in mine action. "


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Keel Laying ceremony on November 30 (Picture source: Jorn Urbain)


Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is in charge of the production of the twelve ships which will be assembled in Concarneau and delivered “ready to sail”. Naval Group, as general architect and prime contractor, is responsible for ship design, general integration, testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system ). ECA Group, as a co-contractor, is responsible for the unmanned mission system (drones).

The Minister of Defense, Ludivine Dedonder said : “With the installation of this keel, the future of our Navy becomes very concrete and our Belgian Navy of the future is now officially under construction. Our country is recognized worldwide as an authority in the field of mine clearance and, with these six new Belgian mine hunters - the first of which is currently under construction - our Navy will be able to maintain its international reputation and even improve it further. The Belgian and Dutch navies have been working closely together for 25 years, and so has the replacement of our fleet. Our country is responsible for the construction of the six Belgian mine hunters and six Dutch mine hunters and the Netherlands is responsible for the frigate replacement project for our two countries. By also giving our new mine hunters the names of their sponsor towns, which also maintain a historic link with the navy, we are determined to continue a fine tradition. "


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Model of the first MCM vessel for the Belgian Navy (Picture source: Jorn Urbain)


The six Belgian ships will be named BNS Oostende, BNS Tournai, BNS Brugge, BNS Liège, BNS Antwerpen and BNS Rochefort. These cities were chosen for their importance in the Belgian maritime world and for historical reasons. Ostend, Bruges and Antwerp are historically the most important “wet” cities in Belgium. In addition, the three towns were linked to the Belgian Navy with the naval base of Kallo, the naval barracks of Ostend and Bruges. As Ostend was already the sponsor city of the BNS Godetia (which has been withdrawn from service) and Bruges that of the M906 Breydel, this is the continuation of a great story.

Liège and Tournai are both located on an important river for navigation. Tournai and Rochefort gave their name to a Belgian minesweeper in the decades following World War II. In the past, the three Walloon towns were previously the godmothers of minesweepers: M908 Georges Truffaut for Liège, M481 Tournai for Tournai and M930 Rochefort for Rochefort.

This choice is therefore a logical continuation of Belgian history.


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The six Belgian ships will be named BNS Oostende, BNS Tournai, BNS Brugge, BNS Liège, BNS Antwerpen and BNS Rochefort. These cities were chosen for their importance in the Belgian maritime world and for historical reasons (Picture source: Belgian MoD)