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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

About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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