|Belgian Naval Component|
French: Composante marine
|Active||1831–1862: 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|
|Garrison/HQ||Zeebrugge, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp|
|Ship classes|| Karel Doorman-class frigate|
|Commander||Rear Admiral Jan De Beurme|
The Belgian Navy, officially the Belgian Naval Component (Dutch: Marinecomponent; French: Composante marine; German: Marinekomponente[needs IPA]) of the Belgian Armed Forces, is the naval service of Belgium.
The Belgian Navy was created as the Marine Royale (English: Royal Navy) in 1831. 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.
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.
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.
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, Electra and Kernot). In 1946, Britain donated the ships to Belgium. These vessels became the backbone of the new Belgian Navy.
See also: Structure of the Belgian Armed Forces in 1989 § Naval Force
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
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
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
Belgian Navy ships 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|
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.
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
The Belgian Armed Forces and Royal Netherlands Navy will replace their M-class frigates with the Future Surface Combatant.
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.