Belgium intends to transfer for free one of its research vessels to Ukraine. It is the RV Belgica ship that will monitor the marine environment of the Black and Azov seas in accordance with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

The RV Belgica (A962) vessel, which is manned by the Belgian Naval Component, will soon be transferred at no cost to Ukraine. It is expected that the ship will start to sail under the Ukrainian flag in the autumn. This is a result of the Memorandum of Understanding in the field of water protection and reproduction and rational use of water resources concluded by Belgium and Ukraine at the end of July. The document was signed by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

Environmental monitoring

“Ukraine is currently implementing the provisions of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive to gradually achieve the good environmental status of the marine environment,” noted Roman Abramovskyi, the minister of environmental protection and natural resources of Ukraine. This activity is in line with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement that obliges the Ukrainian authorities to regularly monitor the marine environment of the Black and Azov seas. Moreover, the Belgian ship will carry out independent scientific monitoring of fish stocks, basic scientific research on the high seas, geological exploration of the seabed.

RV Belgica

The RV Belgica (A962) vessel was built in 1984 at the Boelwerf shipyard in Temse, East Flanders. Its name commemorates the RV Belgica (1884) ship, which participated in the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897-1901. Zeebrugge has been being a homeport for the research vessel for more than 30 years. The RV Belgica has the following dimensions: a length of 51.12 metres, a beam of 10.00 metres, a draught of 4.6 metres. It is propelled by a diesel engine of 1,570 horsepower and can speed up to 13.5 knots (25 kilometres per hour). The vessel has five onboard laboratories and is also equipped with sonar and an acoustic doppler current profiler. At the end of 2021, the RV Belgica (A962) ship will be replaced by the new research vessel of the same name, which was built at Freire Shipyard in Spain.