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First new MCM vessel for Dutch navy launched

Vlissingen, the first new mine-countermeasure vessel being built for the Dutch navy under the Belgian-Dutch rMCM programme. (Naval Group)

An official launch ceremony for Vlissingen, thefirst new mine-countermeasures vessel (MCMV) on order for the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN), was held at Piriou's shipyard in Concarneau, France, on 19 October.

Vlissingen (M 840) is the second of 12 MCMVs on order for the Belgian and Dutch navies under their joint MCM replacement (rMCM) programme. Laid down on 14 June 2022, Vlissingen is scheduled to be delivered to the RNLN in mid-2025. Its launch follows that of Oostende (M 940), the first vessel in the class and also the first ship destined for the Belgian Navy, which took place on 29 March.

The Belgian-led rMCM programme is being delivered by Belgium Naval & Robotics – a consortium of Naval Group and Exail – under a contract awarded in May 2019. The contract includes the supply of 12 2,800-tonne displacement mother ships (six for each navy) plus 10 accompanying MCM ‘toolboxes' totalling around 100 unmanned/autonomous systems drawn from Exail's UMIS offboard MCM suite.

The 12 ships are being designed and built by Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou Group, and assembled at Piriou's shipyards in Concarneau, Brittany, and Lanester, near Lorient. The MCM toolboxes are being supplied by Exail, which is producing most of the unmanned systems at its facility in Ostend, Belgium.

The first three vessels are being built entirely in France; from ship four, the rest of the hulls are being built at Piriou's shipyard in Giurgiu, Romania, and then shipped to France for final assembly and integration.

Following its launch in March, Oostende

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