With the welding of a coin June 14th, the construction of the first new Dutch minehunter has started ceremonially. After the keel laying in Lanester, France, HNLMS Vlissingen will continue to take shape in the coming period.
First, the hull of the ship is built in several parts. These pieces are then joined together to form a whole. Then the new systems are installed. The intention is that the Vlissingen will start sailing in 2025.
De Vlissingen is 1 of the 12 new mine countermeasures vessels that the navy has purchased together with Belgium. Both countries will receive 6. The current minehunters are approaching the end of their lifespan and therefore need to be replaced. Construction of the first new Belgian minehunter has already started at the end of last year.
The threat of sea mines is still current. They are relatively cheap and easy to produce explosives, which can be used to block sea ports, for example. Furthermore, the seabed is still full of projectiles from the Second World War. It is estimated that there are still tens of thousands of mines and bombs in the North Sea alone. They still pose a danger. It even cost several fishermen their lives after they got explosives in their nets.
The current generation of minehunters is still used weekly for clearances, but the successors can do this job more safely. They will be provided with unmanned and autonomous sailing and flying drones. These can be used on, above and below the water. In this way, the ships and their crews no longer have to enter an area where sea mines and other explosives may be located.
Commander of the Naval Forces Vice Admiral René Tas: “These mine countermeasures vessels contribute to future-proof mine action and thus a safer future at sea for the Netherlands, Belgium and our NATO partners.”
The Netherlands and Belgium not only sought cooperation in purchasing the minehunters. Both countries are continuing to work on joint education, training and operations with the ships. The purchase of other equipment such as the multipurpose frigates is also done in accordance with this. The Netherlands has a leading role in this.