Royal Netherlands Navy Alkmaar-class
Van der Giessen-de Noord shipbuilders delivered 15 Tipartites to the RNLN between 1983 and 1989 and 2 modified ships to the Indonesian Navy in 1988. The Dutch minehunting force consisted of 12 Tripartite (or Alkmaar) class minehunters. This compares well, for instance, with the British Royal Navy's 17 minehunters. The mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV) force was reduced as per the Defense White Paper 2000, which was released in November 1999. A general reduction in the force size was needed due to budget limitations. Alkmaar (Tripartite) Class Coastal Minehunters (MHCs): The Alkmaar class MHCs Alkmaar, Delfzyl, and Dordrecht were decommissioned in 2000, leaving twelve units of the class in service as of 2001.
The remaining 12 were extensively modernized from 2003-2008. Upgrades included an improved hull-mounted sonar, the Propelled Variable Depth Sonar (which will enable the MHCs to detect buried mines), and the ability to operate the "Troika" mine countermeasures craft. This modernization program would allow Dutch Tripartites to continue to operate both independently and as leading members of NATO's standing minehunting fleets well into the 21st century.
The Royal Netherlands Navy had about 10 minehunters of the Alkmaar-class by 2012. Two more minehunters had been withdrawn from Dutch service, and the 10 minehunters were modernized in the Project Adjusting Mine hunters-counter-measures Capability (PAM). The electronic sensors are adjusted to the mines to improve control capacity.
The minehunters of the Royal Netherlands Navy can be equipped with 2 sonars, Hull Mounted Sonar (HMS) and always a depending on the mission profile a Self Propelled Variable Depth Sonar (SPVDS). Finds a minehunter off the seabed. With this sonar equipment can not only mines, but also, for example, shipwrecks and missing containers be detected.
Each minehunter had an underwater vessel, the Seafox C/i. As the crew suspect that they have found a mine with their sonar equipment, they let the Seafox to water. The Seafox is equipped with a video camera and a mines destruction cargo. The video images are analysed on board. If the Seafox-C (Combat) indeed goes to a mine, the cargo in the Seafox-C is activated. The Seafox-C is then blown up together with the mine. The Seafox-I (Identification) has no destruction cargo. With this implementation of the Seafox the mines will only be identified.
In addition to the peacetime roles discussed above, the RNLN minehunting force would be vital if and when the Netherlands goes to war. Traditionally, the force would have been tasked with keeping Dutch ports open in order to allow NATO convoys to supply Western Europe. As Europe and the Netherlands move away from the Cold War military atmosphere, the likely wartime role for the RNLN's minehunters would be to clear the way for a Dutch, NATO or EU amphibious force. Even in small peacekeeping conflicts against technologically primitive enemies, the threat of mines is constant, and the Dutch minehunters would be essential to protect high-profile assets like Hr. Ms. Rotterdam.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|