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De Zeven Provincien
Luchtverdedigings- en commandofregatten (LCF)
Air-Defence and Command Frigates

Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) has been an evolving science ever since the advent of the airplane. Since that time, almost every navy in the world has fielded some form of AAW technology. With the advent of anti-ship missiles in the post-WWII era, AAW has taken on an even more significant role in modern navies. As demonstrated in the Falklands War, one million dollar cruise missiles can sink ships worth hundreds of millions in a matter of seconds. To counter this threat, highly sophisticated AAW systems are being designed around the world. The Royal Netherlands Navy -- traditionally tasked with ASW and minehunting tasks -- improvrf their AAW ability with the construction of the De Zeven Provinicn class of AAW destroyers. These replaced a fleet of aging ships that provided the RNLN with AAW defense.

The Royal Netherlands Navy has 4 De Zeven Provincin-class air-defence and command frigates Luchtverdedigings- en commandofregatten (LCF): HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS De Zeven Provincin, HNLMS Evertsen and HNLMS Tromp. Those ships went into service in the period 2001-2005. The frigates of the De Zeven Provincin class have two important roles. They have a command role in facilitating the operations of the deployable and operational staff of the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Netherlands Maritime Force (NLMARFOR). They are also equpped for air-defence tasks. They must be capable of providing protection for an entire fleet. The dual-role tasking is the reason that the ships are known as air-defence and command frigates.

These outstanding platforms with excellent self-defence capability and powerful air defence feature a high degree of automation, resulting in a small crewsize. The combat systems suite is characterised by a highly modern AAW suite, based on the APAR and SMART-L combination. This provides a multi-layer Area Air Defence capability at the Task Force level against saturation attacks. The ships will replace the Tromp and Jacob van Heemskerck Class. The first two ships will be tasked as command ship with extensive communications equipment fitted. The second two ships will be exclusively tasked with area air defence. The platform design is based on the Karel Doorman hull for speed and seakeeping. Signatures have been kept to a practical minimum. Blast and shock hardening measures have been carried through by use of Blast and Fragment Retaining bulkheads, protected ducting of piping and cabling and shock floors. NBC protection is set to high standards.

These are the so-called flagships of the Royal Netherlands Navy. A flagship is the ship assigned to the commander of the Netherlands Maritime Force (C-NLMARFOR), who, together with his staff, commands a group of units (flotilla). Depending on the operation, this may include frigates, submarines, minehunters, supply ships, hydrographical survey ships, helicopters and supporting aircraft. The units are directed from the command center, which is equipped with advanced communications and data facilities. Air-defence and command frigates are specifically equipped to provide air defence and to protect themselves as well as the other units in a flotilla. In addition, the on-board gun can be used to provide fire support to troops on land.

On November 23 2009 Imtech (technical services provider in Europe and in the global maritime market) has commissioned substantial orders to upgrade and expand technical solutions on board existing naval vessels of countries including the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia and Thailand. Imtech is also going to provide part of the on-board technology for new frigates of the Australian navy. Together the orders amount to more than 38 million euro. The Defence Materiel Organisation in the Netherlands contacted Imtech to upgrade the hardware and software of the existing platform automation on board several air defence command and multipurpose frigates of the Dutch navy. The order consists of replacing computers, installing new fiber-optic technology and configuring new processors and measuring & control systems, complete with new and faster software.

The most striking characteristic of the air-defence and command frigates (LCF) is that they use stealth technology. That can be seen by the sharp lines and angular appearance. The high degree of automation of the ships' systems means that the LCFs, in spite of their large size, can be operated by a ship's company of 202 people, including staff. The ships were built by the Royal Schelde Group, of Flushing, Netherlands. The design was a result of collaboration with Spain and Germany in connection with the F100 and F124 project.

The 1999 Defence Memorandum specified that four new frigates would be built, and six of the existing sixteen would be disposed of. The HMS Pieter Florisz was the first to be officially withdrawn from service in Den Helder, on 24 January 2001. Greece had indicated its interest both in this frigate and in the HMS Jan van Brakel. In the past, the country also bought four frigates that had been withdrawn from service by the Netherlands. Of the six ships destined to disappear by the 1999 Defence Memorandum, four were of the so-called S-type. The other two were guided missile frigates. The first four were replaced by the same number of modern air defence and command frigates. The first of these, the Zeven Provincien, which was christened by Queen Beatrix in April 2000, made its first trial voyage in autumn 2001.






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