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Belgian Navy

Marine Component of the Belgian Armed Forces
F930 leopold Zeebrugge.jpg
Leopold I, a Belgian Karel Doorman-class frigate
Photo credit: Belgian Marine Component
Active 1831–1862: Royal Navy
1917–1927: Corps of Destroyers and Sailors
1939–1940: Naval Corps
1940–1946: Belgian Section, Royal Navy
1946–2002: Naval Force
2002–2007: Maritime Component
2007–present: Marine Component
Country  Belgium
Allegiance King of the Belgians
Type Navy
Size 1,600 personnel
2 frigates, 6 minehunters, 6 support vessels
Part of Coats of arms of Belgium Military Forces.svg Belgian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQ Zeebrugge, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp
Ship classes Karel Doorman-class frigate
Tripartite-class minehunter
Commanders
Commander Divisional admiral Wim Robberecht
Insignia
Naval ensign Naval Ensign of Belgium.svg
Naval jack Flag of Belgium.svg

The Belgian Navy, officially the Marine Component (Dutch: Marinecomponent; French: Composante marine; German: Marinekomponente[needs IPA]) of the Belgian Armed Forces,[1][2] formerly the Belgian Naval Force, is the naval service of Belgium.

History

Early history

One of the first gunboats of the Marine Royale
French and Belgian warships during Rio Nuñez Incident in West Africa (1849)

The Belgian Navy was created as the Marine Royale (English: Royal Navy) in 1831. This force has operated in various forms throughout Belgian history.

When after the Belgian Revolution, the country became independent in 1830, a Dutch squadron blocked the Scheldt estuary. To deal with this threat the Belgian Congress ordered two brigantines to be built, which bore the names Congrès and Les Quatre Journées. After the French army, led by Marshal Count Gérard, captured the citadel of Antwerp in 1832, the captured Dutch gun boats were pressed into Belgian service. In 1840 the Belgian government bought the schooner Louise Marie and in 1845 the brig Duc de Brabant. Louise Marie participated in the Rio Nuñez Incident in 1849. In 1862, the Belgian government discarded its navy and pursued a minimalistic naval policy.

World War I

At the outbreak of World War I, Belgium had no navy (an impromptu force was assembled at the Battle for Lake Tanganyika) but the war caused this policy to change and in 1917 a Corps of Destroyers and Sailors was created. The Belgian naval personnel served onboard French minesweepers and provided the artillerymen for Belgian merchant ships. The Treaty of Versailles allocated Belgium 11 torpedo boats and 26 minesweepers. For budgetary reasons, Belgium again abolished its navy in 1927.

World War II

In 1939, against the looming threat of a new war with Germany, Belgium once again resurrected its navy as the Naval Corps. This new navy, consisting mostly of small patrol vessels and coastal artillery units, lasted barely a year until the German invasion of May 1940. During the 18 days campaign, the trawler A4 evacuated much of the government's gold reserve to Britain, while several others helped at the Allied evacuation at Dunkirk.[3]

During World War II many members of this naval corps, together with Belgian fishermen and merchant sailors escaped to Britain with the explicit wish of fighting the German occupiers. The Royal Navy took advantage of this opportunity to enlist the Belgians into separate groups of more or less entirely Belgian-manned ships. From 1940 to 1946, the Belgian Section of the British Royal Navy manned two corvettes, (Buttercup and Godetia), a squadron of MMS minesweepers and three patrol boats (Phrontis (fr), Electra and Kernot). In 1946, Britain donated the ships to Belgium. Along with their crews these vessels became the backbone of the new Belgian Navy.

Cold War

Post-Cold War

In the beginning of the nineties, the end of the Cold War caused the Belgian government to restructure the Belgian Armed Forces in order to cope with the changed threats. This led to a reduction in the size of the Armed Forces. With regards to the Belgian navy, these cutbacks meant that one Wielingen-class frigate was taken out of service and that three Tripartite-class minehunters were sold to France. In 2002, the government decided to impose a "single structure" on the armed forces in which the independent Belgian Marine Royale ceased to exist. The former Navy became the Belgian Naval Component (COMOPSNAV) of the Armed Forces; it is also called the Marine.

On 20 July 2005, the Belgian government decided to buy two of the remaining six Dutch M-class frigates to replace the two remaining frigates of the Wielingen class (Wielingen and Westdiep) currently still in service with the Belgian Navy, which in turn might be sold to Bulgaria. On 21 December 2005, the Dutch government sold Karel Doorman (F827) and Willem Van Der Zaan (F829) to Belgium. The two ships were sold for about 250 million Euros. These two M-class frigates entered service with the Belgian Navy where they were renamed Leopold I and Louise-Marie . In October 2005, the Wielingen-class frigate Wandelaar was officially handed over to the Bulgarian Navy, which christened the ship as Drăzki ('The Bolds'). The remaining ships of the class were transferred to Bulgaria as well, after completing modernization in Belgium. A Tripartite-class minehunter, Myosotis, which was renamed Tsibar was transferred to Bulgaria soon after.

The current Commander of the Naval Component is Flotilla Admiral Georges Heeren.

In February 2013 it was announced that Belgium had ordered two 52-metre (171 ft) patrol vessels from the French shipyard SOCARENAM, to be delivered within two years. Both were received, P901 Castor in 2014 and P902 Pollux in early 2015. The two vessels are to remain in service until 2044-2045[4]

Mission

In times of crisis and war the Belgian Navy will manage, with the support of its allies, the crises rising from the infringements to the principles of International law and/or from the Humans right and exercise the Belgian sovereignty in the maritime zones where the Navy is qualified, defend the lines maritime of communication, main roads and allied, and protect the ports against any air, surface or underwater attack.

In times of peace the Belgian Navy has the following roles:

Flag officers

An officer of the Belgian Marine Component

There are currently four officers of flag rank in the Marine Component:

Current fleet list

Frigates

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Origin Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
F930 Leopold I Karel Doorman class Schelde Naval Shipbuilding 31 May 1991  Netherlands 2,800 30 LEOPOLD I 6876.JPG
F931 Louise-Marie Karel Doorman class Schelde Naval Shipbuilding 28 November 1991  Netherlands 2,800 30 F931 Louise-Marie.jpg

Minehunters

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
M915 Aster Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 16 December 1985 536 15
M916 Bellis Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 13 August 1986 536 15 Frameless
M917 Crocus Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 3 September 1986 536 15
M921 Lobelia Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 3 February 1988 536 15
M923 Narcis Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 30 March 1990 536 15
M924 Primula Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 20 December 1990 536 15 BNS Primula.jpg

Support vessels

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
A960 Godetia Command and logistic support ship Boelwerf, Temse 1966 1700 19
A962 Belgica Oceanographic research vessel Boelwerf, Temse 1984 1200 12 RV Belgica.jpg

Patrol boats

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
P901 Castor Coastal patrol vessel Sociéte Calaisienne de Réparation Navale et Mécanique 10 July 2014 569 22 Castor - P901.jpg
P902 Pollux Coastal patrol vessel Sociéte Calaisienne de Réparation Navale et Mécanique 6 May 2015 569 22

Auxiliary vessel

Former fleet list

Principal Belgian Navy ships since 1945:

Ship's crest of M902 Van Haverbeke

Future

In 2012-2015 the two Belgian Navy frigates were upgraded, followed by the two frigates of the Dutch Navy.

In 2013 the first NH-90 Helicopter was delivered and introduced into service replacing the Westland Sea King and Alouette III from 2014 onwards.

In the strategic defence vision report of the Belgian government, it was stated that by 2030 the Belgian naval component will have invested in two new frigates and six new minehunters.[5]

References

  1. ^ "La Défense" (in French). Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  2. ^ "Defensie" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  3. ^ "Dunkerque". KLM-MRA Séction Marine. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Un chantier naval français construit les nouveaux patrouilleurs de la Marine". 5 February 2013. www.mil.be. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Akkoord over het strategisch plan voor Defensie 2030" (in Dutch). 22 December 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 

External links