March 15, 2019 (Google Translation) – The 12 new mine combat vessels for the Belgian and Dutch navies are being built by a consortium led by the French company Naval Group. Both cabinets today agreed with the Naval Group proposal, which came out best after a European tender led by the Belgians. The decision is a new milestone in the 70-year maritime cooperation between neighboring countries.
Today’s mine miners are more than 30 years old and approaching the end of their lifespan. Operationally they are no longer able to cope with new forms of threat. The new mine-fighting vessels will operate in a different way and will no longer have to enter the area where sea mines may be located due to the use of unmanned systems.
The sea mine is a relatively cheap and easy to produce means with which the free use of the sea and sea ports can be easily denied with major consequences. The deteriorated security situation in the world increases the chance of an armed conflict and the deployment of sea mines. The current mine fighters are still deployed weekly for clearing mines in the North Sea. It is estimated that there are still thousands of mines and aircraft bombs from the world wars on the seabed.
It is the first time that the two navies together have opted for an identical product in which one country takes the lead in the tender. Belgium is in charge of replacing the mine-fighting vessels, and the Netherlands in replacing the multi-purpose frigates. It was already known that the Netherlands had entrusted the implementation of that project to Dutch industry (Damen and Thales). A total of more than 2 billion euros is involved in the replacement of mine miners. The first of the 12 ships, six for each country, is to be delivered to Belgium by the end of 2023. The Netherlands expects the first ship in 2025.
“The threat of laying sea mines on vital shipping routes and seaports remains undiminished,” said State Secretary Barbara Visser. “Mine-fighting vessels are and remain indispensable for the protection of our shipping, free waters and the Netherlands as a trading country.”