Damen Shipyards Den Helder will soon handover the Expeditionary Survey Boat (ESB) Hydrograaf to the Royal Netherlands Navy. The Hydrograaf was built for a speed of at least 20 knots, with very low noise requirements and a maximum weight of only 24 tonnes.

In connection with the maximum permissible loading weight of the Davits hoisting installation on ships such as HNLMS Johan de Witt, the vessel was allowed a maximum weight of only 24 tonnes. The design and construction of the Hydrograaf was realised in close collaboration between the DMO (Defence Materiel Organisation) and Damen Shipyards Den Helder (DSDH).

The sixteen metre long ESB can be deployed from the so-called big decks, such as Zr. Ms. Johan de Witt. The ESB can independently perform hydrographic surveys under tactical conditions at a greater distance from the mother ship. It is a fully fledged platform that is comparable to a hydrographic survey vessel (HSV) and meets the highest survey standards.

In the coming weeks, the ESB will be prepared for handover to the RNLN, which will start operating the vessel after a work-up period of several weeks.

Hydrographic survey

The ESB will provide up-to-date information about the soil conditions and the situation below the waterline in places where that insight is required. With this information, the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) supports expeditionary maritime operations and provides an environment in which ships can navigate safely. The main tasks of the ESB are:

  • Gathering environmental information to make decisions about the (im)possibilities of an amphibious operation;
  • Performing hydrographic survey operations in support of emergency relief operations;
  • Supporting with civil hydrographic tasks on the national continental shelf (NCP).

The name Hydrograaf has been chosen in honour of the National Inspection Vessel Hydrograaf from 1910. It is also a clear reference to the primary task.

Naming ceremony

Due to the coronavirus measures currently in force, the naming ceremony on 26 February took place in an adjusted manner, whereby the majority of the invitees were present via a livestream. The naming was also carried out remotely, whereby outgoing State Secretary of Defence Barbara Visser shattered the bottle of champagne against the ship in Den Helder with the press of a button.

The ceremony was attended physically and at an appropriate distance by deputy commander of the naval forces rear admiral Nacht Hulsker, captain of the ESB lieutenant at sea 2 (OC) van Amerongen, director of projects DMO commander Kreiter, deputy director of DSDH Peter van den Berg and the responsible project leader of DSDH.

After the naming ceremony, the ESB was symbolically handed over by DSDH to DMO’s Director of Projects, commander Kreiter, followed by a toast to the vessel and her crew.

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