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Displaying items by tag: Belgian Navy

A Belgian Navy frigate conducting exercises in the Irish Sea was tracked by Afloat days in advance of a visit to Dublin Port and in the run up to this week's Brexit Deal finally struck in Brussels, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The frigate BNS Louise-Marie (F931) under Commander Coppieters de Gibson had carried out crew training exercises off Lambay Island in the Irish Sea in addition to waters between Wicklow Head and the Llŷn Peninsula, north Wales.

Also engaged was the Irish Naval Service UK built LÉ George Bernard Shaw (P64) which took part in the PASSEX training exercises with BNS Louise-Marie as the frigate transited the Irish Sea en route to Dublin Port for the five day visit. These exercises allowed the INS to practice core naval skills and ensure interoperability.

Following completion of training, BNS Louise-Marie, a former Dutch Navy Karel Doorman-class frigate berthed in Dublin on Sunday. The visit was to enable crew rest and recreation and an opportunity for Pierre-Emmanuel De Bauw, Ambassador of Belgium to Ireland to pay a visit on board and meet the crew.

On the frigate's final day in the Irish capital on Thursday (the Brexit Deal was announced), this aptly coincided with an event organised by the Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. The BLCCIE's guest speaker, John J McGrane, director-general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, spoke about Brexit and the need for vigilance over future EU-UK relationships.

In a week of intense political negotiations in mainland Europe, commuters here at home using the Tom Clarke (East-Link) bridge would of observed the naval visitor berthed at the port's North Quay Wall Extension. At the stern on the aft deck was a NATO frigate helicopter.

Commissioned into service in 1991 as HNLMS Willem van der Zaan, the frigate had a career with the Royal Dutch Netherlands Navy until decomissioned in 2006. Three years later the frigate was renamed BNS Marie Louise by Queen Paola of Belgium. The frigate's homeport is at the Zeebrugge Naval Base.

Today, Afloat.ie tracked the naval vessel in Fishguard Bay, south Wales. Arriving this morning to Fishguard was the ferry Stena Europe, recently returned fresh from refit in Turkey. The country (a member state of NATO) is spread across two continents, Europe and Asia. 

By early this afternoon the BNS Marie-Louise had departed Welsh waters and likewise the Stena Europe had headed west-bound into the St. Georges Channel. The frigate was astern of the Rosslare 'Europort' bound ferry albeit at some distance away.

As Afloat previously reported there have been discussions to develope a service linking the Irish Europort with mainland Europe through the French port of Le Havre.  

Published in Navy

#NavalVisits - A Belgian Navy 'Tripartite' class minecounter measures vessel remains in Dublin Port whereas an accompanying command logistics supportship which had been on a mission to west Africa, departed the capital yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Also taking place yesterday, the 51m (MCM) minecounter measures BNS Bellis shifted berths following a weekend stay upriver and closer to the city-centre at Sir John Rogersons Quay. It was also from here that the 91m command supportship, BNS Godetia had spent time too in the capital for crew rest and recreation after arriving from Tenerife. This marked the latest leg of a return voyage from west Africa to Belgium.

The deployment of BNS Godetia to west Africa was for a third time. On this latest mission it involved co-operating with the 'Maritime Operation and Analysis Centre' based in Lisbon, Portugal from where anti-drug /piracy operations are co-ordinated. This saw the Belgian Navy carry out patrols in an effort to combate illegal drugs trafficked from South America bound for Europe via west Africa.

Prior to departing Osstende last month, among humanitarian cargoes loaded on the ship equipped with a stern heli-deck, were medical supplies. The mission involved calling to ports among them Banjul, capital of The Gambia. The west African state is surrounded by Senegal, except for the small stretch of the Gambia coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Ships Monthly, the Belgium Government are to replace the BNS Godetia and BNS Bellis (commissioned in 1986) with newbuilds. The 'Tripartite' MCM's were a collaboration of the Belgium, Dutch and French navies however the class are ageing. The replacement project costing €1.1 billion for the Belgian Navy is for six new 'mother ships' and the same number is to apply to the Royal Netherlands Navy, with deliveries scheduled between 2021-2030.

Prior to the pair of Belgian Navy's arrivals last Friday to Dublin Port, BNS Bellis was monitored by Afloat carrying out coastal manouveres between Wicklow coast and Arklow Bank. The MCM ship had sailed from the naval base in Zeebrugge, Belgium.

On departure from Dublin Port yesterday, BNS Godetia headed out via the North Burford Bouy and beyond the Kish Bank Lighthouse and proceeded southwards bound for Zeebrugge. The ship with its 80 crew is understood to be calling to a UK east coast port prior to a scheduled return home to Belgium on Friday.

Published in Naval Visits

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