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SASW 2024: New Dutch support ship gears up for first sea trials

The RNLN's new combat support ship Den Helder is expected to be commissioned in 2025. (Damen)

The Royal Netherlands Navy's (RNLN's) new combat support ship (CSS) is poised to start initial sea trials in the coming months as the vessel's construction programme continues to make progress, a Dutch naval official has confirmed.

The new ship, named Den Helder (A 834) , is being built at Damen Shipyards yard in Galați, Romania, under a contract awarded in February 2020.

Speaking to Janes at Defence iQ's Surface, Air and Seabed Warfare 2024 conference in Portsmouth, the UK, on 18 June, the naval official said the CSS is planned to start its first sea trials during the third quarter (Q3) of 2024. After being put to sea the ship will transit from the Black Sea to the Netherlands, where it will undergo final outfitting at Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in Den Helder, he said.

“Once it arrives in the Netherlands we will equip it with military systems – communications systems, weapons, and sensors – and then put it to sea for work up and operations,” he said. “After completing outfitting we will test the ship in Q1 and Q2 2025 and do work up right up to summer [mid-year] 2025, and then we will conduct our first operational deployment at the end of 2025.”

Den Helder started construction in Galați in December 2020, was laid down in June 2021, and launched in October 2022.

Although the ship was built at Damen's Galați facility, design and engineering activities were largely carried out in the Netherlands. The CSS is based on the same design as the RNLN's joint support ship (JSS) HNLMS Karel Doorman

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