Third mine countermeasure vessel of Belgian-Dutch rMCM program launched

The launching ceremony of Tournai, the third of the twelve mine countermeasure vessels in the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program, intended for the Belgian Navy, took place on July 2, 2024, in Concarneau.

Naval Group

The launching was carried out by Kership, the program’s industrial prime contractor, on behalf of Naval Group, the overall prime contractor.

Tournai, third ship in the program and the second for the Belgian Navy, will be delivered to Belgium in 2026.

The first ship in the series, Oostende, destined for the Belgian Navy, was launched on March 29, 2023, and the second, Vlissingen, destined for the Royal Netherlands Navy, on October 19, 2023.

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The fourth in the series, Scheveningen, the second vessel for the Dutch Navy, was laid down on July 19, 2023, and is scheduled to be launched in December 2024.

Delivery of Oostende is scheduled for the summer of 2025 in Zeebrugge, Belgium. Deliveries of the other ships will then be staggered until mid-2030, at a rate of two a year.

The rMCM program was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium formed by Naval Group and Exail, as part of international competition.

The partners will supply the Belgian Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy with twelve mine countermeasures vessels, as well as around a hundred drones integrated into a toolbox to equip the vessels.

In September 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between France, Belgium and the Netherlands, allowing France to use the design of the rMCM ships to equip the French Navy with six ships. Thales will be in charge of the onboard UAV system for France.

Naval Group, as overall architect and prime contractor, is responsible for the design of the ships, overall integration, testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system).

Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is the industrial prime contractor for the twelve ships, which are being built in Concarneau and Lanester.

Exail, the co-contractor, is in charge of the UAV mission system, most of which will be produced in Ostend, Belgium. Maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium as part of a close collaboration between the Belgian Navy and Naval Group Belgium, with the assistance of its partner Flanders Ship Repair in Zeebrugge.

These minehunters have the following characteristics:

  • Length: 82.6 meters;
  • Width: 17 meters;
  • Displacement: 2,800 toms;
  • Maximum speed: 15.3 knots;
  • Range: >3500 nautical miles;
  • Accommodation: 63 people.

These specialist mine warfare vessels will be the first to have the capacity to embark and launch or fly a combination of surface drones (vessels of around 12 meters and 18 tonnes), underwater drones and aerial drones.

The mine countermeasures vessels will use a fully robotized system to detect, classify and neutralize mines. They can withstand underwater explosions and have very low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, in line with the missions to be carried out, according to Naval Group.