Naval Group laid the keel for the first of the twelve mine countermeasure vessels of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program, intended for Belgium, on November 30.
This program was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium formed by Naval Group and ECA Group, following an international competition. It provides for the supply to the Belgian Navy and the Royal Dutch Navy of twelve mine countermeasures vessels and around a hundred drones integrated inside a toolbox that will equip the vessels.
Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is in charge of the production of the twelve vessels which are assembled in Concarneau. They will be armed afloat by Piriou. Naval Group, as overall architect and prime contractor, is responsible for the design of the ships, the overall integration, and the testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system). ECA Group, as co-contractor, is in charge of the unmanned drones’ system. Thedrones will be produced in ECA Group workshop (Ostend, Belgium). The maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium in close collaboration between the Belgian Navy and Naval Group Belgium, with the assistance of its partner Flanders Ship Repair.
The first delivery is scheduled for the end of 2024 in Zeebrugge, Belgium. Deliveries will then be staggered until 2030.
These specialised mine warfare vessels are the first to have the capability to embark and launch or fly a combination of surface drones (themselves 12-metre, 20-tonne vessels), underwater drones and aerial drones. The mine countermeasures vessels will use a fully robotic system for detection, classification and neutralisation of mines. They can withstand underwater explosions and have very low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, in line with the missions to be carried out.