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Belgian Navy celebrates keel laying of 3rd mine countermeasure vessel BNS Brugge.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the Belgian Navy on January 31, 2024, a traditional keel-laying ceremony took place in Concarneau for the BNS Brugge, the third Belgian rMCM Vessel to enter production.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Keel laying ceremony for the third rMCM vessel BNS Brugge. (Picture source: Belgian Navy)

The rMcM program, a cooperative venture between the Belgian and Dutch Navies, was officially launched on May 22, 2019, with the contract awarded to the Belgian Naval & Robotics consortium, comprising Naval Group and ECA Group. This program aims to supply 12 mine countermeasures vessels and a range of unmanned systems to the two navies.

Each of these vessels is designed for optimal performance in mine countermeasure operations, measuring 82.6 meters in length and 17 meters in width. They have a displacement of about 2,800 tons and can achieve a maximum speed of 15.3 knots. Their operational range is more than 3,500 nautical miles, and they can accommodate a crew of up to 63 people.

A key feature of these ships is their comprehensive array of drone capabilities. They are equipped with the UMISOFT System from ECA Group and include two unmanned surface vehicles (Inspector 125), three autonomous underwater vehicles (A-18 with UMISAS 120 sonar), and two towed sonars (T-18 with UMISAS 240 sonar). Additionally, they contain two Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (Seascan and K-Ster C), two unmanned aerial vehicles (UMS Skeldar’s V200), and an ECA Group influence dredger with 5 CTM magnetic modules and 1 PATRIA acoustic module.

The first ship's construction commenced in the summer of 2021, with the program's inaugural vessel, M940 Oostende, launched in Concarneau on March 29, 2023. The first delivery to the Belgian Navy is anticipated by the end of 2024, and the program plans to continue deliveries until 2030.

Naval Group is the prime contractor in the rMcM program, responsible for the ships' design, integration, testing, and commissioning of the mission system, which includes both the combat system and mine countermeasures system.

Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, oversees the production of these vessels. The unmanned drones' system is managed by Exail Robotics, serving as a co-contractor.

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