Netherlands, Belgium join on €4 billion military ship purchase

HNLMS De Zeven Provincien
. Stealth frigate HNLMS De Zeven Provincien, of the Dutch Navy, at Portsmouth Naval Base on Sept. 21, 2009. The ship launched in 2000 (photo: Brian Burnell/CC-BY-SA-3.0)

A joint purchase by the Netherlands and Belgium will give the navies of those two countries access to twelve minesweepers and four frigates, according to Belgian media outlet De Redactie. An estimated four-billion euro purchase price will be split by the neighboring nations, presuming Dutch defense minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and her Belgian counterpart, Steven Vandeput, sign the deal later in November.

The cooperation brings down the purchase and running costs, military expert Jens Franssen told Belgian radio on Monday morning. “Belgium and the Netherlands can train crews together,” he said. They can also handle routine maintenance together, as well as long-term repairs, he added. “It is certainly not a coincidence that [Belgium] does this together with the Netherlands. The Belgian navy already works quite closely with the Dutch.”

Franssen went on to say that the investment is important to Belgium because of how dependent its economy is on access to commercial shipping, despite its relatively short coastline.

It is not known if the two countries will share ownership over all of the ships, or if each country is effectively buying half the fleet. Each country’s own specialized knowledge was used to complete the purchase, with the Netherlands negotiating the frigate deal, and Belgium securing the minesweepers.

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