Belgian Navy

Belgian Navy
Marine Component of the Belgian Army
Active 1831-1865: Royal Navy
1917-1927: Corps of Destroyers and Sailors
1939-1940: Naval Corps
1940-1946: Belgian Section, Royal Navy
1946-2002: Naval Force
2002-2007: Maritime Component
2007-present: Marine Component
Country Belgium Belgium
Size 1,600 personnel
2 frigates, 6 minehunters, 6 support vessels
Garrison/HQ Zeebrugge, Bruges, Ostend, Antwerp
Ship classes Karel Doorman class frigate
Tripartite class minehunter
Commander Divisional Admiral Jean-Paul Robyns
Ensign Ensign of the Belgian Naval Component

The Marine Component (French: Composante marine, Dutch: Marinecomponent, German: Marinekomponente) of the Belgian Army, formerly the Belgian Naval Force, is the naval service of Belgium.



Early history

The Belgian Navy was created as the Marine Royale in 1831. This force has operated in various forms throughout Belgian history.

When after the Belgian Revolution, the country became independent in 1830, a Dutch squadron blocked the Scheldt estuarium. To deal with this threat the Belgian Congress ordered two brigantines to be built, which bore the names Congrès and Les Quatre Journées. After the French army, led by Marshal of France Etienne Gérard, captured the citadel of Antwerp in 1832, the captured Dutch gun boats were pressed into Belgian service. In 1840 the Belgian government bought the schooner Louise Marie and in 1845 the brig Duc de Brabant. In 1865, the Belgian government discarded its navy and pursued a minimalistic naval policy. This meant that at the outbreak of World War I, Belgium had no navy.

One of the first gunboats of the Marine Royale
One French and One Belgian warship (Louise Marie) during Rio Nunez Incident at West Africa Coast (1849)
An officer of the Belgian Naval Component

The War caused this policy to change and in 1917 a Corps of Destroyers and Sailors was created. The Belgian naval personnel served onboard French mine sweepers and provided the artillerymen for Belgian merchant ships. The Treaty of Versailles allocated Belgium 11 torpedo boats and 26 mine sweepers. Because of budgetary reasons, Belgium again abolished its navy. In 1939, against the looming threat of a new war with Germany, Belgium once again resurrected its navy as the Naval Corps. This new navy lasted barely a year until the German invasion of May 1940.

During World War II many members of this naval corps, together with Belgian fishermen and merchant sailors escaped to England with the explicit wish of fighting the German occupiers. The Royal Navy took advantage of this opportunity to enlist the Belgians into separate groups of more or less entirely Belgian-manned ships. From 1940 to 1946, the Belgian Section of the British Royal Navy manned two corvettes, (Buttercup and Godetia), a squadron of MMS mine sweepers and three patrol boats (Phrontis, Electra and Kernot). In 1946, Britain generously donated the ships (along with its crews) to Belgium to become the backbone of the new Belgian Navy.

Post-Cold War

In the beginning of the nineties, the end of the Cold War caused the Belgian government to restructure the Belgian Armed Forces in order to cope with the changed threats. This meant cutbacks and crimping the Armed Forces. With regards to the Belgian navy these cutbacks meant that one Wielingen class frigate was stricken and that three Tripartite class minehunters were sold to France. In 2002, the government decided to impose a "single structure" on the armed forces in which the independent Belgian Navy ceased to exist. The former Navy became the Belgium Naval Component (COMOPSNAV) of the Armed Forces; it is also called the Marine.[1]

On July 20, 2005, the Belgian government decided to buy two of the remaining six Dutch M-class frigates to replace the two remaining frigates of the Wielingen class (Wielingen and Westdiep) currently still in service with the Belgian Navy, which in turn might be sold to Bulgaria. On December 21, 2005, the Dutch government sold the Karel Doorman (F827) and Willem Van Der Zaan (F829) to Belgium. The two ships were sold for about 250 million Euros. These two M-class frigates entered service with the Belgian Navy where they were renamed Leopold I and Louise-Marie .

In October 2005, the Wielingen class frigate Wandelaar was officially handed over to the Bulgarian Navy, which christened it as the Drăzki ('The Bolds'). The country's government plans to put an order for a second ship of the Wandelaar class together with a minesweeper, both second-hand.

The current Commander of the Naval Component is Divisional Admiral Jean-Paul Robyns.


In times of crisis and war the Belgian Navy will manage, with the support of its allies, the crises rising from the infringements to the principles of International law and/or from the Humans right and exercise the Belgian sovereignty in the maritime zones where the Navy is qualified, defend the lines maritime of communication, main roads and allied, and protect the ports against any air, surface or underwater attack.

In times of peace the Belgian Navy has the following roles:

  • To ensure the presence of Belgium at sea.
  • To give a support for our diplomacy and our foreign trade.
  • Technical and military collaboration with the allied countries.
  • Participation in humane actions.
  • Contribute to the nation in the maritime zones for which Belgium is responsible:
    • Contribution to oceanographic search.
    • Control of fishing
    • Contribution to the control of pollution at sea.
    • Participation in the plan of assistance in territorial waters
    • Support for the customs and police operations
    • Detection of wrecks of boats.
    • Participation in rescues at sea.
    • Contribution to the training of the commercial naval officers
    • Control of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone.
    • If necessary, opening of the centre of hyperbare medicine to the population.
    • Destruction of explosive devices at sea
  • Preparation with the tasks to be carried out in times of crisis and war.
  • Contribution to dissuasion at sea by the means of permanent allied squadrons.

Flag Officers

There are currently five officers of flag rank in the Naval Component:[2]

Current Fleet List


Karel Doorman class

Mine Hunters

M916 BNS Bellis

Tripartite class

Support Vessels

BNS Godetia
  • A960 Godetia, (1965-) Command and Logistic support ship
  • A950 O/lt Valcke, (1960-) Ready Duty Ship
  • A962 Belgica, (1984-) Oceanographic Research Vessel
  • A963 Stern, (1980-) Ready Duty Ship
  • A996 Albatros, (1967-) Ready Duty Ship

Patrol Boat

  • P902 Liberation, a former river patrol boat built in 1954, now used during the Summer months at different locations for public relations

Auxiliary Vessels

  • A952 Wesp, (1959-) Harbour Tug not authorised to leave Zeebrugge
  • A954 Zeemeeuw, (1971-) Harbour Tug
  • A955 Mier, (1959-) Harbour Tug not authorised to leave Zeebrugge
  • A958 Zenobe Gramme, (1961-) Sailing Ship
  • A995 Spich (2003-), Rigid Inflatable Boat
  • A998 Werl (2003-), Rigid Inflatable Boat
  • A983 Quatuor (2006-), Royal Yacht
  • A984 Alpa (2009-), Royal Yacht
  • A997 Spin, (1958-) Harbour Launch

Former Fleet List

Belgian Navy ships since 1945:

  • Wielingen class frigates
  • Tripartite minehunter
    • M918 Dianthus, Tripartite minehunter (sold to France 1993)
    • M919 Fuchsia, Tripartite minehunter (sold to France 1993)
    • M920 Iris, Tripartite minehunter (sold to France 1993)
    • M922 Myosotis, Tripartite minehunter (sold to Bulgaria 2007)
  • Algerine class minesweeper
    • M900 Adrien de Gerlache (ex HMS Liberty, acquired 1949 - decommissioned 1969)
    • M901 Georges Lecointe (i) (ex HMS Cadmus, acquired 1950 - decommissioned 1959)
    • M901 Georges Lecointe (ii) (ex HMCS Wallaceburg, acquired 1959 - decommissioned 1969)
    • M902 Van Haverbeke (i) (ex HMS Ready - acquired 1951 - decommissioned 1960)
    • M903 Dufour (i) (ex HMS Fancy - acquired 1951 - decommissioned 1959)
    • M903 Dufour (ii) (ex HMCS Winnipeg - acquired 1959 - decommissioned 1966)
    • M904 De Brouwer (i) (ex HMS Spanker - acquired 1953 - decommissioned 1966)
    • M905 De Moor (ex HMS Rosario - acquired 1953 - decommissioned 1966)
Ship's crest of M902 Van Haverbeke
  • MSO class minesweeper (Aggressive class)
    • M902 Van Haverbeke (ii) (ex USN MSO522 - acquired 1960 - decommissioned)
    • M903 Dufour (ex USN AM498 - ex USN MSO522 - ex Norwegian Navy M951 Lagen - acquired 1966 - decommissioned 1985)
    • M904 Debrouwer (ex USN AM499 - ex USN MSO499 - ex Norwegian Navy M952 Namsen - acquired 1966 - decommissioned 1993)
    • M906 Breydel (ex USN AM504, ex USN MSO504, acquired 1956 - decommissioned 1993)
    • M907 Artevelde (ex USN AM503, ex USN MSO503, acquired 1955 - decommissioned 1985)
    • M908 Truffaut (ex USN AM515, ex USN MSO515, acquired 1956 - decommissioned 1993)
    • M909 Bovesse (ex USN AM516, ex USN MSO516, acquired 1957 - decommissioned 1993)
    • Pico (ex USN AM497 - ex USN MSO497 - ex Portuguese Navy M418 Pico - acquired 1974 for spares, subsequently stripped and abandoned, never commissioned)
  • MSC class coastal minesweeper (akin to US Navy Minesweeper Coastal)
    • M910 Diest (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M911 Eeklo (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M912 Lier (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M913 Maaseik (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M914 Roeselare (sold to Norway 1966)
    • M915 Arlon (sold to Norway 1966)
    • M916 Bastogne (sold to Norway 1966)
    • M917 Charleroi (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M918 Sint-Niklaas (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M919 Sint-Truiden (sold to Greece 1969)
    • M920 Diksmuide (sold to Taiwan 1969)
    • M921 Herve (sold to Greece 1969)
    • M922 Malmedy (sold to Greece 1969)
    • M923 Blankenberge (sold to Greece 1969)
    • M924 Laroche (sold to Greece 1969)
    • M925 De Panne (retired from service 1969)
    • M926 Mechelen (converted to research ship - decommissioned)
    • M927 Spa (converted to munition transport and renumbered A963 - decommissioned and sold to a Dutch foundation, re-commissioned as museum ship AMS60 Bernisse)
    • M928 Stavelot (decommissioned 1987)
    • M929 Heist (decommissioned 1992)
    • M930 Rochefort (decommissioned 1992)
    • M931 Knokke (decommissioned 1976)
    • M932 Nieuwpoort (decommissioned 1991)
    • M933 Koksijde (decommissioned 1991)
    • M934 Verviers (ex USN MSC259 - converted to minehunter 1972 - decommissioned 1988)
    • M935 Veurne (ex USN MSC260 - converted to minehunter 1972 - decommissioned 1987)
  • MSI class inshore minesweepers (similar to the British Ham or Ley class)
    • M470 Temse (sold to South Korea 1970)
    • M471 Hasselt (decommissioned 1989; transferred to Belgian Sea Cadet Corps in 1993)
    • M472 Kortrijk (decommissioned 1989)
    • M473 Lokeren (decommissioned 1987)
    • M474 Turnhout (decommissioned 1991)
    • M475 Tongeren (decommissioned 1991)
    • M476 Merksem (decommissioned 1992)
    • M477 Oudenaarde (decommissioned 1989)
    • M478 Herstal (decommissioned 1991)
    • M479 Huy (decommissioned 1990)
    • M480 Seraing (decommissioned 1990)
    • M481 Tournai (sold to South Korea 1970)
    • M482 Visé (decommissioned 1991)
    • M483 Ougrée (decommissioned 1992; she is in civilian ownership on the River Medway in Chatham, Kent, England (2007))
    • M484 Dinant (decommissioned 1992)
    • M485 Andenne (decommissioned 1991)
  • Motorminesweeper 105 class
    • M940 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M941 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M942 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M943 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M944 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M945 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M946 (decommissioned 1954)
    • M947 (decommissioned 1954)
  • Miscellaneous Combatant Vessels
    • Barcock (boom defence vessel; ex-Royal Navy HMS Barcock; acquired 1946; returned 1949)
    • Bootsman Jonson (minesweeper; ex-Kriegsmarine V1001; acquired 1944; decommissioned 1949)
    • Bootsman Jonson 2 (minesweeper; ex-Kriegsmarine V1300; acquired 1948; decommissioned 1952)
  • Patrol boats
    • P900 Ijzer (decommissioned 1969; fate unknown)
    • P901 Leie (decommissioned 1983; sold privately; acquired by Royal Belgian Sea Cadet Corps in later sale)
    • P902 Dender (sold in 1954 without being commissioned)
    • P903 Meuse (decommissioned 1983; on display at Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels)
    • P904 Sambre (decommissioned 1983; donated to Royal Belgian Sea Cadet Corps 1985)
    • P905 Schelde (decommissioned 1983; on display at National Maritime Museum, Antwerp)
    • P906 Semois (decommissioned 1983; sold privately 1985; sunk during storm in Alicante, Spain 1992)
    • P907 Rupel (decommissioned 1983; sold privately 1985; awaiting overhaul by current owner)
    • P908 Ourthe (decommissioned 1983; sold privately 1985; fate unknown)
  • Auxiliary ships
    • A950 Sub-Lieutenant Valcke (tug; built 1951; decommissioned 1980; sold privately)
    • A951 Hommel (harbor tug; built in Germany 1953; decommissioned 1999)
    • A952 Wesp (harbor tug; built in Germany 1953; decommissioned 1984)
    • A952 Bij (harbour tug; built in The Netherlands 1959; decommissioned 1986)
    • A955 Eupen (decommissioned 1966)
    • A956 Krekel (harbour tug; built in Belgium 1961; decommissioned 1986)
    • A957 Kamina (former German U-boat tender Herman von Wissmann; also wore pennant numbers AP907 and AP957; decommissioned 1967)
    • A959 Mier (harbour tug; decommissioned 1984)
    • A961 Zinnia (supply ship; decommissioned 1993; scrapped 2007)
    • A962 Mechelen (ex-M926 Mechelen; converted to research ship 1963; decommissioned 1983)
    • A963 Spa (ex-M927 Spa; converted to munitions transport ship 1978; decommissioned and sold 1993)
    • A964 Heist (ex-M929 Heist; converted to auxiliary ship 1978; reconverted to M929 Heist 1985)
    • A999 Barbara, Hovercraft (decomissioned 2009)
    • Avila (royal yacht; on display at Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels)
    • Inga 1 (tug; built 1959; abandoned in Belgian Congo 1960)
    • MTL551 (motor transport launch; ex-US Navy MTL551; acquired 1947; sold 1953)
  • Inland waterways barges
    • A998 Ekster (munitions transport barge; acquired 1953; decommissioned 1979)
    • FN1 (abandoned in Belgian Congo 1960)
    • FN2 (abandoned in Belgian Congo 1960)
    • FN3 (abandoned in Belgian Congo 1960)
    • FN4 (decommissioned 1982)
    • FN5 (decommissioned 1982)
    • FN6 (decommissioned 1982)


  1. ^ The former term 'Zeemacht' in Dutch, 'Force Navale' in French, is in both languages once again referred to by the term 'Marine' which does not indicate an independent force.
  2. ^ "Marinecomponent: Who's Who" (in Dutch). Defence Belgium. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 

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