The French shipbuilding company Naval Group has put the keel for the second of 12 Royal Netherlands Navy mine action platforms (MCM), HNLMS Vlissingen.

A keel-laying ceremony was held in Lanester, France.

It was attended by the Commander of the Royal Navy of the Netherlands, Vice Admiral Rene Tass, the Director of Projects of the Dutch Defense Materials Organization, Commodore Harold Bockholt, and Belgian officials.

The 12 ships are being built under the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program.

In addition to 12 ships, this program includes the integration of about 100 drones into a toolbox for equipment on MCM platforms.

The program was awarded to Belgium Naval & Robotics, a consortium of Naval Group and ECA Group, following an international competition in 2019.

The keel for the first MCM ship was laid in December last year.

Naval Group and Piriou joint venture, Kership has taken over the production of all MCM vessels, which will be assembled in Lanester and Concarneau in France.

Once assembled, the ships will be armed to the surface from Piriu to Concarneau.

As the main contractor, Naval Group is responsible for ship design, integration, testing and commissioning of the mission system, including anti-mine and anti-mine systems.

Meanwhile, co-contractor ECA Group is working on the production of unmanned drone systems at its plant in Ostend, Belgium.

Naval Group CEO Pierre Eric Pomelet said: “Together we are preparing for the future of mine action by sharing a game-changing, common defense solution.

The maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium by the Naval Group Belgium in close coordination with the Belgian Navy, with the ship repair of Flanders providing assistance.

MCM ships with a length of 12 m and 20 tons can board and launch a combination of surface, underwater and air drones.

It can use an autonomous system to detect, classify and neutralize mines.

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