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Karel Doorman M-class frigates

The navy had 2 multi-purpose frigates (M-class frigates) as of 2012: HNLMS Van Amstel and HNLMS Van Speijk. M-class frigates can be used for surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. They also have their own air-defence capabilities. M-class frigates are also known as Karel Doorman-class frigates because HNLMS Karel Doorman was the first M-class frigate to be taken into service by the navy.

The Karel Dormans entered service at the beginning of the 1990s, a time that saw the introduction of highly capable ASW frigates in several NATO nations. These frigates-the British Dukes, the Canadian Halifax class and, of course, the Dutch Karel Doormans-were designed to meet the Soviet submarine threat in the North Atlantic. As they approached service, though, the military and political climate changed and their respective navies described all three as multi-role frigates.

Karel Doorman Class frigates were used for anti- submarine warfare, anti-surface operations and air defence. The ship is equipped with two quad launchers for the AGM-84 (Harpoon) Block 1C anti-ship missile. For short-range air defence, the ship has a Mk 48 vertical launch system for the Raytheon Sea Sparrow (RIM-7M) missile, and carries 16 missiles. The ship's main gun is a 76 mm Otobreda Mk 100 which is capable of firing 100 rounds per minute with a range of 16 km anti-surface and 12 km anti-air. The Signaal Goalkeeper close-in weapon system (CIWS) is fitted to provide close-in air defence. Also fitted are two Oerlikon 20 mm light cannon which fire at 800 rounds per minute to a range of 2 km. Two twin Mk 32 Mod 9 torpedo tubes are fitted and they fire the Honeywell Mark-46 Mod 5 lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes. The ship carries one GKN Westland Lynx SH-14D helicopter for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

The ships are equipped with an underwater towed hydrophone. The hydrophone is used to locate submarines. The monitoring and operation of the mechanical systems on the M-class frigates has been largely automated. Under normal conditions, the ship sails with an unmanned engine room. Operation is done by 1 person using several computer monitors. The design of the M-class frigates was done internally by the Royal Netherlands Navy, in close cooperation with the De Schelde dockyard in Flushing and design bureau Nevesbu. Several stealth technologies were used in the design, such as the slanted walls of the bridge section. A great deal of attention has also been paid to the facilities and the accommodation for the ship's company. There is more privacy and greatly improved comfort.

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. For the Dutch navy Imtech is handling the complete replacement of an existing integrated control and monitoring system aboard two multipurpose frigates. This system, comprising more than 40 computer systems distributed across the ship and used to control and monitor all on-board technology, will be completely replaced by new platform automation. The new technology is part of the same technological 'family' of the platform automation aboard the air defence and command frigates. Through its work Imtech is helping the Dutch navy to maximise the efficiency of its operations.

Not all of the M-class frigates remain in service with the Royal Netherlands Navy. HNLMS Karel Doorman, the first of the M-class ships was transferred to the Belgian navy in 2007. Early in 2009, HNLMS Van Nes was transferred to the Portuguese navy, followed by HNLMS Van Galen in January 2010.




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