Belgian Naval Component
  • Marinecomponent  (Dutch)
  • Composante marine  (French)
  • Marinekomponente  (German)
Country Belgium
RoleMaritime warfare
Part of
Coats of arms of Belgium Military Forces.svg
Belgian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQZeebrugge, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp
Ship classes
CommanderDivisional admiral Jan De Beurme
Admiral BeneluxVice admiral René Tas
Naval ensign
Naval Ensign of Belgium.svg
Naval jack
Naval Jack of Belgium.svg
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.


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.


In April 1862 the existing royal navy was disbanded as an economy measure. The navy's personnel were transferred to a "state navy force" manning small vessels and employed in non-military functions such as the provision of ferry services, inspection of incoming vessels and charting research. The need for a proper naval service to provide coastal and port defence was raised periodically but did not progress beyond the retention as a reserve of four lightly armed gunboats, moored in the Port of Antwerp and crewed by members of the Belgian Army's Engineering Corps.[6]

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.[7]

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-crewed ships. From 1940 to 1946, the Belgian Section of the British Royal Navy crewed 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

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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[8]


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:


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


Main article: Commander of the Navy (Belgium)


Main article: Belgian military ranks

Officer ranks

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
 Belgian Navy[9]
Belgium Sea Component OF(D).png
Admiraal Vice-admiraal Divisieadmiraal Flottieljeadmiraal Kapitein-ter-zee Fregatkapitein Korvetkapitein Luitenant-ter-zee 1ste klasse Luitenant-ter-zee Vaandrig-ter-zee Vaandrig-ter-zee 2de klasse Aspirant der marine
Amiral Vice-amiral Amiral de division Amiral de flottille Capitaine de vaisseau Capitaine de frégate Capitaine de corvette Lieutenant de vaisseau de 1re classe Lieutenant de vaisseau Enseigne de vaisseau Enseigne de vaisseau de 2e classe Aspirant de marine
Admiral Vizeadmiral Divisionsadmiral Flotillenadmiral Kapitän zur See Fregattenkapitän Korvettenkapitän Linienschiffsleutnant 1. klasse Linienschiffsleutnant Seefahnrich Seefahnrich 2. klasse Aspirant von marine

Other ranks

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Belgian Navy[9]
Navy-BEL-OR-09a maitre principal chef.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-09b maitre principal.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-08 1er maitre-chef.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-07 1er maitre.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-06a maitre chef.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-06b maitre.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-05 2e maitre.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-04a 1er quartier-maitre-chef.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-04b quartier-maitre-chef.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-03 quartier-maitre.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-02 1er matelot.svg
Navy-BEL-OR-01 matelot.svg
Oppermeester-Chef Oppermeester Eerste meesterchef Eerste meester Meester-chef Meester Tweede meester Eerste kwartiermeester-chef Kwartiermeester-chef Kwartiermeester Eerste matroos Matroos
Maître principal-Chef Maître-principal Premier-maître chef Premier maître Maître-chef Maître Second-maître 1er Quartier-maître-chef Quartier-maître-chef Quartier maître Premier matelot Matelot
Chefhauptmeister Hauptmeister Erster Chefmeister Erster Meister Meister-Chef Meister Zweiter Meister 1er Oberquartiermeister Oberquartiermeister Quartiermeister 1er Matrose Matrose

Current fleet list


Class Ship No. Commissioned Builder Origin Displacement
Karel Doorman class Leopold I F930 31 May 1991 (Netherlands)
29 March 1997 (Belgium)
Schelde Naval Shipbuilding  Netherlands 2,800 30
Louise-Marie F931 28 November 1991 (Netherlands)
8 April 2008 (Belgium)

Minesweepers and minehunters

Class Ship No. Commissioned Builder Origin Displacement
Tripartite class Bellis M916 13 August 1986 Mercantile-Belyard Shipyard  Belgium 536 15
Crocus M917 3 September 1986
Lobelia M921 3 February 1988
Narcis M923 30 March 1990
Primula M924 20 December 1990

Patrol boats

Type Ship No. Commissioned Builder Displacement
Coastal patrol vessel Castor P901 10 July 2014 Sociéte Calaisienne de Réparation Navale et Mécanique (SOCARENAM) 569 22
Castor - P901.jpg
Pollux P902 6 May 2015

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

aircraft role number in use photo
NH90 troop 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.[10]

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[11]

The Belgian Armed Forces and Royal Netherlands Navy will replace their M-class frigates with the Future Surface Combatant.[12]

Main article: City-class mine countermeasures vessel

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.[13]

See also


  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". Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Allied Maritime Command - National Support Elements". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  5. ^ "The Navy". Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  6. ^ Lierneux, Dr Pierre. The Belgian Army in the Great War. pp. 502–503. ISBN 978-3-902526-75-5.
  7. ^ "Dunkerque". KLM-MRA Séction Marine. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Un chantier naval français construit les nouveaux patrouilleurs de la Marine". 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Marinecomponent". (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 20 February 2005. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "Vervanging van het oceanografisch onderzoeksschip Belgica |". (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 30 December 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  12. ^ Fiorenza, Nicholas (29 May 2018). "Belgium approves M-frigate replacement". Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  13. ^ Frans consortium mag nieuwe Belgische mijnenjagers bouwen (in Dutch)