HNLMS Karel Doorman is being subjected to a smart maintenance plan. This means that instead of a Midlife Update, the ship receives the updates during regular maintenance. The first update sees the ship equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and a new cannon.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence is thus deviating from the regular course of affairs in terms of the Midlife Update, but as such, the Joint Support Ship stays optimally deployable. State Secretary of Defence Christophe van der Maat informed Dutch Parliament of this by letter this week.

The Karel Doorman has been in service since 2014. A Midlife Update programme was originally planned for the period 2027-2028. This update will now be split up and given during scheduled maintenance in 2025 and 2032. This means the ship will not have to lay-up as often.

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New missiles, cannon and radar

During the first maintenance project, the Karel Doorman will receive Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a 76-mm gun for self-defence. These capabilities replace both Goalkeepers. The RAM missiles are already a significant improvement against air targets, the cannon against ship targets.

Later, the Joint Support Ship will be equipped with a special radar that will allow the gun to fire radar-guided grenades against air targets. That is an additional improvement to the defence against air threats.

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Supply and transport ship

The Joint Support Ship is both a supply and a transport ship. In a fleet context, the ship supplies Dutch and/or foreign naval vessels with, for example, fuel, ammunition, food and drinking water.

The Karel Doorman is also capable of transporting heavy equipment. The ship can take dozens of vehicles and a large quantity of goods on board. This is particularly important for carrying out military operations by the entire armed forces far from home.

If required, HNLMS Karel Doorman can also contribute to the provision of emergency humanitarian aid, such as in 2017 after hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. The ship can also be used for so-called sea basing. The vessel then supports operations on land from the sea, including with helicopters or landing craft. Equipment is then brought on land when there is no port.

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Halfway through life span

A Midlife Update is usually carried out halfway through a ship’s expected life span and is intended to keep it deployable without malfunctioning or failing systems. Furthermore, the vessel must continue to comply with national and international laws and regulations in the area of seaworthiness, safety, working conditions and the environment.

With the maintenance of the HNLMS Karel Doorman, the Royal Netherlands Navy can deploy the ship safely, maintainably, affordably and fully operationally until the second conservation programme in 2032.

Picture: HNLMS Karel Doorman enters the port of Den Helder after a 3-month mission off the west coast of Africa to deliver supplies to fight Ebola.