Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) Modernization
The Navy has modern ships and equipment and is capable of carrying out its tasks which during the Cold War, in collaboration with the navies of other NATO countries, are to safeguard the free and unhindered use of the sea and to guarantee safe access to vital Dutch ports. Protecting the Dutch Merchant Navy and the territory of The Netherlands Antilles were additional tasks entrusted to the Navy. The RNLN also has ships, aircraft, and marines available for United Nations peacekeeping operations. Priority was given to anti-submarine warfare, with increasing emphasis on air defense and surface warfare.
The Navy has frigates, supply vessels and an amphibious transporter: the backbone of the Dutch fleet. Other Navy units are the Mine Countermeasures Service and the Submarine Service. The RNLN has modernized its fleet as well. Older ships are continually being replaced with state-of-the-art, Dutch designed and built vessels. Examples of the modernization program (1986-1996) included two air defense frigates, four modern conventional submarines, eight multi-purpose frigates, fifteen minehunters, ten and possibly sixteen minesweepers, two mine countermeasures vessels, one amphibious lift ship, and one fast combat support ship. All ship construction continues to be accomplished in The Netherlands' shipyards. Of particular importance to the ODC is the fact that all major combat ships are being outfitted with U.S. weapons and launching systems.
Naval aviation centers around Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and was composed of P-3C Update II aircraft, Lynx helicopters and supporting personnel. New flight/weapon simulators and a modern ASW operations center support the ASW mission. Both aircraft types were in various stages of upgrade in the 1980s. The Naval Air Service's helicopters can operate either from land or from vessels. Helicopters stationed on vessels have anti-submarine equipment, and those stationed on shore conduct transport flights, reconnaissance activities and rescue missions.
The navy has four state-of-the-art air defence and command (LCF) frigates, the new flagships of the fleet. These frigates are designed especially for air defence and command and control tasks for a maritime task group and have a characteristic stealth-like appearance. That appearance makes the frigates difficult to detect by radar. The armament can strike several targets simultaneously. The latest technology has been applied, fully integrating all command, sensor and weapon systems. The ships can be made suitable for the use of missiles against inland targets and to protect sea and coastal areas against missile attacks.
The multipurpose (M) frigates are suited to various tasks, such as air defence, antisubmarine operations and surface warfare. The surface and air defence armament is such that several targets can be attacked simultaneously, at various distances. The M frigates alsohave a towed passive sonar, the Towed Array, for detecting submarines. The LCF and M frigates all have a Sea Sparrow guided-weapon system for short range air defence, a Harpoon anti-ship weapon system, torpedoes and a gun. The LCFs also have the Standard Missile weapon system that, due to its greater range, is suitable for the air defence of a task group. The air defence (L) frigates are suitable for air defence tasks for a task group, as well as command and control tasks. They are therefore also equipped with a Standard Missile air defence system.
The multifunctional amphibious transport ship (or landing platform dock), HNLMS Rotterdam, is primarily intended for amphibious operations. In addition, the ship can be deployed for all elements of the armed forces, for instance for transport missions, command and control, disaster relief and evacuations. It is able to carry a complete marine battalion with equipment, vehicles, six medium helicopters and four large or six small landing craft. A second amphibious transport ship was added to the fleet in 2007. This ship, the Johan de Witt, has more extensive command facilities and will therefore be able to accommodate an entire joint staff (of land, air and naval forces).
The supply vessels are able to replenish the supplies, such as fuel, food, ammunition and spare parts, of our own ships and of those of our Allies at sea. These vessels, which have a helicopter deck and a hangar to accommodate several helicopters, are essential to the logistic independence that is so characteristic of the naval forces. All vessels are equipped with a Goalkeeper rapid-fire gun for closein air defence.
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