After a technical launch in February, the first new Mine Countermeasure Vessel for the Belgian navy was officially launched on 29 March. During the ceremony in Concarneau, France, shipbuilder Naval transferred the ship’s bell and nameplates of BNS Oostende to the Belgian navy.

The Ostend is the first of twelve new Mine Countermeasure Vessels that the Royal Netherlands Navy has jointly acquired and developed with Belgium. Both countries will receive six. The current minehunters of both navies are nearing the end of their service life.

Construction has also started on the second new Belgian minehunter. The keel of BNS Tournai was laid on 29 March.

Also read: New Belgian Mine Countermeasure Vessel hits the water

First Dutch minehunter

Construction of the first Dutch ship, HNLMS Vlissingen, is proceeding according to schedule. The hull is well advanced. Work is also already under way on the installation of large systems and the laying of many metres of piping and tubes.

Launching of the vessel is expected at the end of September.

According to Dutch Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren, it is not only the Netherlands and Belgium that will benefit from the brand new minefighters. ‘Safe, freely accessible seas and waterways are vital for a strong and prosperous Europe. The use of sea mines is alive and well. Old mines and bombs from the world wars and improvised explosives of a few hundred euros have the potential to be disruptive.’

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