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Ukrainian crews to receive training on Dutch minehunters

HNLMS Makkum, one of six remaining Alkmaar (Tripartite)-class minehunters in the Royal Netherlands Navy service. (Michael Nitz – Naval Press Service)

The Netherlands is gearing up to start training Ukrainian crews to operate the Dutch navy's Alkmaar (Tripartite)-class minehunters in the coming weeks.

Speaking at the third summit of the International Crimea Platform in Kyiv held from 12 to 23 August, Dutch Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren confirmed that training on the Alkmaar-class minehunters would start in September. Training would be conducted with assistance from Belgium and other allies, she added.

In March the Netherlands announced plans to donate two Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) Alkmaar-class minehunters as part of a military aid package that also included drone-detection radar systems and an M3 amphibious bridge-building and ferry system.

The Dutch mine-countermeasures (MCM) vessels are intended to help clear the Black Sea of mines laid during the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. During the Crimea Platform summit, Ollongren expressed her concerns about safety in the Black Sea. β€œThe Black Sea has become a dangerous place due to Russian aggression,” she said. β€œThe actions against international shipping and transport of grain are a threat to food security. This is unacceptable.”

Under current planning the two minehunters will be transferred from 2025 when the RNLN expects to receive the first of six new-generation MCM vessels being procured under the Belgian/Netherlands (BE/NL) replacement MCM (rMCM) programme.

The RNLN operates a fleet of six remaining Alkmaar-class MCM vessels of an original class of 15 that entered service in the 1980s. Five have been sold to Latvia, two to Pakistan, and two to Bulgaria.

The two Alkmaar-class minehunters will join two former UK Royal Navy (RN) Sandown-class minehunters, Chernihiv (ex-HMS Grimsby) and Cherkasy (ex-HMS Shoreham

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