Belgian Naval Component
Dutch: Marinecomponent
French: Composante marine
German: Marinekomponente
Active1831–1862: Royal Navy
1862–1914: State Navy
1917–1927: Corps of Destroyers and Sailors
1939–1940: Naval Corps
1940–1946: Belgian Section, Royal Navy
1946–2002: Naval Force
2002–present: Naval Component
Country Kingdom of Belgium
TypeNavy
Size2,340
Part of
Belgian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQZeebrugge, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp
Ship classes Karel Doorman-class frigate
Tripartite-class minehunter
Commanders
CommanderRear Admiral Jan De Beurme
Insignia
Naval ensign
Naval jack
Leopold I, a Belgian  Karel Doorman-class frigate

The Belgian Navy, officially the Belgian Naval Component (Dutch: Marinecomponent; French: Composante marine; German: Marinekomponente[needs IPA]) of the Belgian Armed Forces,[1][2][3][4] is the naval service of Belgium.

History

Early history

One of the first gunboats of the Marine Royale
One of the first gunboats of the Marine Royale
French and Belgian warships during the Rio Nuñez Incident in West Africa, 1849
French and Belgian warships during the Rio Nuñez Incident in West Africa, 1849

The Belgian Navy was created as the Marine Royale (English: Royal Navy) in 1831.[5] This force has operated in various forms throughout Belgian history.

When the country became independent after the Belgian Revolution of 1830, a Dutch squadron blocked the Scheldt estuary. To deal with this threat the Belgian Congress ordered two brigantines to be built, which bore the names Congrès and Les Quatre Journées. After the French Army, led by Marshal Count Gérard, captured the citadel of Antwerp in 1832, the captured Dutch gun boats were pressed into Belgian service. In 1840 the Belgian government bought the schooner Louise Marie and in 1845 the brig Duc de Brabant. Louise Marie participated in the Rio Nuñez Incident in 1849. In 1862, the Belgian government discarded its navy and pursued a minimalistic naval policy.

World War I

At the outbreak of World War I, Belgium had no navy (an impromptu force was assembled at the Battle for Lake Tanganyika) but the war caused this policy to change and a Corps of Destroyers and Sailors was created in 1917. The Belgian naval personnel served onboard French minesweepers and provided the artillerymen for Belgian merchant ships. The Treaty of Versailles allocated Belgium 11 torpedo boats and 26 minesweepers. For budgetary reasons, Belgium again abolished its navy in 1927.

World War II

In 1939, against the looming threat of a new war with Germany, Belgium once again resurrected its navy as the Naval Corps. This new navy, consisting mostly of small patrol vessels and coastal artillery units, lasted barely a year until the German invasion of May 1940. During the 18 days campaign, the trawler A4 evacuated much of the government's gold reserve to Britain, while several others helped at the Allied evacuation at Dunkirk.[6]

During World War II many members of the Naval Corps, together with Belgian fishermen and merchant sailors, escaped to Britain with the explicit wish of fighting the German occupiers. The Royal Navy took advantage of this opportunity to enlist the Belgians into separate groups of more or less entirely Belgian-manned ships. From 1940 to 1946, the Belgian Section of the British Royal Navy manned two corvettes, (Buttercup and Godetia), a squadron of MMS minesweepers and three patrol boats (Phrontis [fr], Electra and Kernot). In 1946, Britain donated the ships to Belgium. These vessels became the backbone of the new Belgian Navy.

Cold War

See also: Structure of the Belgian Armed Forces in 1989 § Naval Force

Post-Cold War

In the beginning of the nineties, the end of the Cold War caused the Belgian government to restructure the Belgian Armed Forces in order to cope with the changed threats. This led to a reduction in the size of the Armed Forces. With regards to the Belgian navy, these cutbacks meant that one Wielingen-class frigate was taken out of service and that three Tripartite-class minehunters were sold to France. In 2002, the government decided to impose a "single structure" on the armed forces in which the independent Belgian Marine Royale ceased to exist. The former Navy became the Belgian Naval Component (COMOPSNAV) of the Armed Forces; it is also generally referred to as the Belgian Navy.

On 20 July 2005, the Belgian government decided to buy two of the remaining six Dutch M-class frigates to replace the two remaining frigates of the Wielingen class (Wielingen and Westdiep) currently still in service with the Belgian Navy, which in turn might be sold to Bulgaria. On 21 December 2005, the Dutch government sold Karel Doorman (F827) and Willem Van Der Zaan (F829) to Belgium. The two ships were sold for about 250 million Euros. These two M-class frigates entered service with the Belgian Navy where they were renamed Leopold I and Louise-Marie. In October 2005, the Wielingen-class frigate Wandelaar was officially handed over to the Bulgarian Navy, which christened the ship as Drăzki ('The Bolds'). The remaining ships of the class were transferred to Bulgaria as well, after completing modernization in Belgium. A Tripartite-class minehunter, Myosotis, which was renamed Tsibar was transferred to Bulgaria soon after.

The current Commander of the Naval Component is Rear Admiral Jan De Beurme (since September 2020).

In February 2013 it was announced that Belgium had ordered two 52-metre (171 ft) patrol vessels from the French shipyard SOCARENAM, to be delivered within two years. Both were received, P901 Castor in 2014 and P902 Pollux in early 2015. The two vessels are to remain in service until 2044–2045[7]

Mission

In times of crisis and war the Belgian Naval Component will manage, with the support of its allies, the crises rising from the infringements to the principles of International law and/or from the Humans right and exercise the Belgian sovereignty in the maritime zones where the Naval Component is qualified, defend the underwater communication lines, main roads and allied, and protect the ports against any air, surface or underwater attack.

In times of peace the Belgian Naval Component has the following roles:

Organisation

Main article: Structure of the Belgian Armed Forces §  Naval Component

Current fleet list

Frigates

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Origin Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
F930 Leopold I Karel Doorman class Schelde Naval Shipbuilding 31 May 1991  Netherlands 2,800 30
F931 Louise-Marie Karel Doorman class Schelde Naval Shipbuilding 28 November 1991  Netherlands 2,800 30

Minesweepers and minehunters

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
M916 Bellis Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 13 August 1986 536 15
M917 Crocus Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 3 September 1986 536 15

M921 Lobelia Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 3 February 1988 536 15
M923 Narcis Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 30 March 1990 536 15

M924 Primula Tripartite class Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard 20 December 1990 536 15

Support vessels

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
A960 Godetia Command and logistic support ship Boelwerf, Temse 1966 1700 19
A962 Belgica Oceanographic research vessel Boelwerf, Temse 1984 1200 12
A958 Zenobe Gramme Bermuda Ketch Sailing Ship, training vessel Boelwerf, Temse 1961 136 7/8

Patrol boats

Ship Type Builder Commissioned Displacement
(tonnes)
Speed
(knots)
Photo
P901 Castor Coastal patrol vessel Sociéte Calaisienne de Réparation Navale et Mécanique (SOCARENAM) 10 July 2014 569 22
P902 Pollux Coastal patrol vessel Sociéte Calaisienne de Réparation Navale et Mécanique (SOCARENAM) 6 May 2015 569 22

Aircraft operated by 40th Squadron Heli, from the Belgium Air Component.

aircraft role number in use photo
NH90 Anti-submarine warfare, troops transport, and search and rescue 4

Past fleet list

Belgian Navy ships since 1945:

Coat of arms of the M902 Van Haverbeke.
Coat of arms of the M902 Van Haverbeke.

Belgian naval aircraft since 1945

Type Origin Variants Period of service Notes Aircraft serial
Aerospatiale Alouette III France SA.316B Alouette III 1971 - Three helicopters M
Sikorsky S-58 United States HSS-1 Seabat 1962 - 1971. Two helicopters B

Future projects

In 2012–2015 the two Belgian Armed Forces frigates were upgraded, followed by the two frigates of the Dutch Navy.

In 2013 the first NH-90 Helicopter was delivered and introduced into service replacing the Westland Sea King and Alouette III from 2014 onwards.

In the strategic defense vision report of the Belgian government, it was stated that by 2030 the Belgian Naval component will have invested in two new frigates and six new minehunters.[8]

In December 2017 the Belgian Science Policy Office together with the Secretary of Defense confirmed the replacement of the oceanographic vessel A962 Belgica. Design and construction is set to start in January 2018. Commissioning is foreseen for early 2020[9]

The Belgian Armed Forces and Royal Netherlands Navy will replace their M-class frigates with the Future Surface Combatant.[10]

In March 2019 the Belgian Armed Forces and the Royal Netherlands Navy announced that they will replace their Tripartite-class minehunters with six new minehunters each to be built by a consortium led by France's Naval Group.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ "La Défense" (in French). Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Defensie" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  3. ^ Pike, John. "Belgium - Navy / Composante Maritime / Marinecomponent". globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "The Navy". Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Dunkerque". KLM-MRA Séction Marine. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Un chantier naval français construit les nouveaux patrouilleurs de la Marine". 5 February 2013. www.mil.be. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  8. ^ "Akkoord over het strategisch plan voor Defensie 2030" (in Dutch). 22 December 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Vervanging van het oceanografisch onderzoeksschip Belgica | Presscenter.org". www.presscenter.org (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 30 December 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  10. ^ Fiorenza, Nicholas (29 May 2018). "Belgium approves M-frigate replacement". www.janes.com. Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  11. ^ Frans consortium mag nieuwe Belgische mijnenjagers bouwen (in Dutch)