The Netherlands plans to supply two Alkmaar-class mine countermeasure vessels to Ukraine. The transfer of the vessels will take place after the Royal Netherlands Navy has received replacement capacity. These mine countermeasure vessels are currently under construction.

Ukraine will also receive equipment procured directly from industry. These include drone detection radar systems and so-called M3 bridge- and ferrying systems to quickly lay bridges. This was announced by Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren in Ukraine on 14 March. With her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, she visited the heavily bombed port cities of Mykolajiv and Odessa in the south of the country in recent days.

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Western weapon systems

Reznikov and Ollongren talked about strengthening coastal defences, the importance of free passage and maritime security and protection of grain ships. In the Black Sea, Russia has laid many sea mines that impede safe passage. After the war, Ukraine wants to clear them.

‘The Netherlands has a lot of maritime expertise, including in defusing sea mines,’ says Ollongren. ‘Minehunters and training Ukrainian crews contribute to Black Sea safety, the safety of Europe and global food security.’ It also contributes to the transition of the Ukrainian armed forces to Western weapons systems and NATO standards.

Also read: Dutch mine countermeasure vessel Vlaardingen joins NATO fleet in Mediterranean Sea

Handover in 2025, training to start this year

The current Royal Netherlands Navy mine countermeasure vessels will be replaced by new ones. The transfer of both vessels to Ukraine will take place after the replacement capacity is delivered to the Dutch navy. This is expected to take place from 2025.

Training of the Ukrainian crew will start in the second half of 2023. The Netherlands will take on that task, together with Belgium and possibly other allies.

EUR 1.2 billion in weapons

Reznikov told Ollongren that military support from the Netherlands and other countries is making a difference in Ukraine’s defence. The Netherlands has now supplied weapons worth a total of EUR 1.2 billion. This included pantzer howitzers, Patriot launchers and tanks from industry.

The minister announced that the Netherlands will continue to provide military support. As far as she is concerned, speed is now of the essence, and when it comes to ammunition especially large quantities. There is currently heavy fighting in Bakhut and further in the Donbas.

Picture: HNLMS Zierikzee is one of the Royal Netherlands Navy’s minehunters. The ships are part of the Alkmaar class (picture Dutch Ministry of Defence).

Also read: Construction of first new Dutch Mine Countermeasure Vessel kicks off