Belgian frigate concludes Mediterranean migrant mission as scheduled
Belgian Navy frigate BNS Louise Marie concluded her deployment to the EU-led migrant crisis operation in the Mediterranean Sea setting sail home on July 23.
The multi-purpose frigate left operation Sophia after the scheduled 34 days of duties, despite calls for the frigate’s earlier withdrawal due to the mission’s perceived inability to reach set goals.
The frigate operated near the coast of Libya contributing to a mission aimed at countering illegal arm and human trafficking. During her deployment, Louise Marie boarded a number ships in the area and took part in a rescue mission saving 118 migrants, including 1 newborn, 39 children and 6 women.
BNS Louise Marie’s deployment was the third time Belgium has sent a frigate to operation Sophia.
Louise Marie is a former Dutch Navy Karel Doorman-class frigate bought by the Belgian Navy in 2005 from the Royal Netherlands Navy as replacement for Belgian Navy’s old Wielingen-class frigates. Louise Marie was formerly known as HNLMS Willem van der Zaan.
In 2009, the Netherlands and Belgium decided to modernize their M- frigates by rebuilding their hangar and helicopter decks to accommodate the NH 90 helicopters.