Modernization of Four Offshore Patrol Ships
(Source: Netherlands Ministry of Defence; issued Dec. 18, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The four patrol ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy require a so-called midlife update (MLU). Only with a modernization will the ships remain usable until they reach the end of their service life in 15 to 20 years.

State Secretary Barbara Visser informed the House today by letter about the project.

Many parts of the ships, which are also referred to as Oceangoing Patrol Vessels (OPVs), will need to be replaced over the course of this decade. Otherwise, it can lead to malfunctions or even outages. These include important systems for the health and safety of personnel, such as alarms and air supply. It also becomes increasingly difficult to obtain spare parts without a Mid-Life Update (MLU).

In addition, the OPVs must continue to comply with legislation and regulations in the field of health and safety and the environment, and with regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Without an MLU, even their seaworthiness could be compromised. That would mean that the OPVs are no longer allowed to leave the port.

Replacement IT and installations

The integrated operating and monitoring system is being adapted at the MLU. In the IT field, among other things, the hardware and software on board will be replaced. Furthermore, the layers of paint on the decks, the hull and the tanks are removed and reapplied in several layers. The ventilation system for climate control, the heating installation, pumps and valves and part of the radar and communication equipment will also be replaced.

The intention is that the adjustments will be implemented in phases in the period from 2024-2034. This means that at least one OPV will be constantly available, and the navy will be able to continue to perform all its tasks. A budget of between € 100 and € 250 million is available for the project.

Coast guard duties and deployment

The OPVs entered service between 2012-2013. They are designed for coast guard duties in the Netherlands and as an on-station ship in the Caribbean. The ships can also combat terrorism and piracy and offer humanitarian assistance such as disaster relief.

In the West, for example, they intercepted drug smugglers several times and seized large consignments of drugs. In 2017, the OPV Zr.Ms. Zeeland provided, emergency relief on Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba after hurricanes Irma and Jose. With their relatively small crew of about 50 people, the ships can perform these tasks efficiently.

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