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Belgian frigate BNS Louise-Marie ready for Red Sea deployment following training mishap

The Belgian Navy's Modernised M (Karel Doorman)-class frigate BNS Louise-Marie (F 931) will join the EU's maritime security mission ‘Aspides' in the Red Sea in the coming week. (Guy Toremans)

The Belgian Navy's Modernised M (Karel Doorman)-class frigate BNS Louise-Marie (F 931) has been declared operationally ready to participate in the European Union's (EU's) maritime security missions in the Red Sea and Strait of Hormuz following a period of extended preparatory training in the Mediterranean, the service has announced.

Louise-Marie was originally scheduled to transit through the Suez Canal to join the EU's ‘Aspides' mission to protect commercial shipping in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden on 12 April. However, on 13 April the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the deployment had been postponed ‘indefinitely' to address technical issues that had occurred during training the previous week. During the incident, one of the ship's RIM-7 M/P Sea Sparrow surface-to-air (SAM) missiles failed to launch, remaining stuck in the launch tube, and several other weapon systems also failed to shoot down the practice drone.

In a 27 April announcement on its official social media account X (formerly Twitter), the Belgian Navy said that following a period of extended operational training, the frigate was now deemed ready to participate in ‘Aspides' in the Red Sea and subsequently Operation ‘Agenor', the EU's maritime awareness operation in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Next week, the frigate will carry out one last port stop [in the Mediterranean] to refuel and resupply. It will then cross the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea,” it said. “The crew has trained intensively and is very motivated to carry out the missions to come.”


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