Royal Netherlands Navy’s new ESB named in Den Helder

On 26 February 2021, Dutch shipyard Damen Shipyards Den Helder (DSDH) held a naming and handover ceremony for the Royal Netherlands Navy’s expeditionary survey boat (ESB) Hydrograaf.


Due to the coronavirus measures currently in force, the ceremony took place in an adjusted manner, whereby the majority of the invitees were present via a livestream.

Photo: Damen

The design and construction of the Hydrograaf was realised in close collaboration between the DMO and DSDH.

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After construction, the Hydrograaf was allowed to receive a maximum weight of 24 tons, in connection with the maximum permissible loading weight of the Davits hoisting installation on ships such as HNLMS Johan de Witt.

At the same time, the ship must reach a speed of at least 20 knots, with very low noise requirements and limited space for recording all hydrographic equipment.

In the coming weeks, the ESB will be prepared for handover to the RNLN, which will start operating the vessel after a work-up period of several weeks.

The ESB will provide up-to-date information about the soil conditions and the situation below the waterline in places where that insight is required. With this information, the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLSN) supports expeditionary maritime operations and provides an environment in which ships can navigate safely. The main tasks of the ESB are:

  • Gathering environmental information to make decisions about the (im)possibilities of an amphibious operation;
  • Performing hydrographic survey operations in support of emergency relief operations;
  • Supporting with civil hydrographic tasks on the national continental shelf (NCP).

The sixteen-meter-long ESB can be deployed from the so-called big decks, such as Zr. Ms. Johan de Witt.

The ESB can independently perform hydrographic surveys under tactical conditions at a greater distance from the mother ship. It is a fully fledged platform that is comparable to a hydrographic survey vessel (HOV) and meets the highest survey standards, according to Damen.