In Brief: New Frigates of the Netherlands and Singapore

By N.R. Jenzen-Jones

The Netherlands’ De Zeven Provinciën Class

HNLMS Evertsen on patrol off the Horn of Africa, as part of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield.

HNLMS Evertsen is one of four De Zeven Provinciën class air defence and command frigates in service with the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine). Evertsen is the youngest of the four, having been completed in 2003 and commissioned in 2005. These ships superseded the two smaller Tromp class frigates, decommissioned in 1999 and 2001. Despite being classified by the Netherlands Navy as frigates, their displacement (6,050 tonnes), complement (202 + 30 aircrew), and role make them comparable to many destroyers. They are similar in these respects to the RAN’s planned Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWD).  The Netherlands Navy also intends to use the De Zeven Provinciën class in a limited Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) role, having recently awarded a contract for modification of the ships’ Thales SMART-L and APAR radars. According to an article in January’s Proceedings magazine, these modifications are expected to be complete by late 2017. It should be noted that the currently planned modifications only endow the class with the capability to detect and track ballistic missile threats, and do not provide for surface-to-air interceptor missiles.

The De Zeven Provinciën class are armed with five 8-cell MK 41 VLS modules, with a typical loadout of 32x SM-2MR Block IIA (RIM-66L-2) and 8x quad-packed RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles. They are equipped with two quadruple-canister RGM-84 Harpoon SSM launchers, an Oto Melara Otobreda 127mm/54 Compact dual-purpose gun, and 2x twin-tube MK 32 Mod 9 torpedo tubes (with Raytheon MK46 Mod 5 torpedoes). Two Thales ‘Goalkeeper’ CIWS, 2-4x browning M2 .50 calibre machine guns, and 4x FN MAG 7.62x51mm machine guns are also fitted. The De Zeven Provinciën class carry either a SH-14D Super Lynx or an NH90 NFH. The Evertsen is currently carrying a Super Lynx for Operation Ocean Shield.

HNLMS Evertsen participated in EUNAVFOR’s Operation ATALANTA in 2009; in one operation her crew were responsible for capturing thirteen Somali pirates who had previously attempted to board the BBC Togo off the coast of Oman. In 2010, HNLMSTromp took part in Operation ATALANTA, including the retaking of the German flagged MV Taipan by Dutch marines. Evertsen has returned to the Horn of Africa as the Netherlands’ contribution to NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, under the command of Commander Boudewijn Boots, and serves as the flagship of Ocean Shield for Commodore Ben Bekkering, current Commander SNMG1 (Standing NATO Maritime Group 1), and his international staff of 24. She has been involved in several successful counter-piracy actions, including detaining Somali pirates who had hijacked an Omani dhow and its crew, and used the vessel to attempt to board the MV Namrun. The Evertsen carries a Royal Netherlands Marine Corps Enhanced Boarding Element (EBE) as part of its counter-piracy capability. The EBE is made up of operators from the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps Maritime Special Operations Forces (MARSOF), assigned to the vessel for counter-piracy duties. It may also be supplemented by regular marines.

A Formidable Frigate 

The Republic of Singapore frigate RSS Formidable (68) during a formation exercise for RIMPAC 2012.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Formidable class frigates are considered amongst the most advanced surface combatants in Southeast Asia. Built around a substantially modified version of the French La Fayette class, they feature an advanced stealth design incorporating a range of Radar Cross-Section (RCS) reduction features. The inclined planes of the hull and superstructures, concealment of typical ship’s equipment, low profile housings for armaments, and enclosed sensor mast are chief amongst these. The Formidable class armament includes: an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun, 8x RGM-84C Harpoon SSMs, and 4x 8-cell Sylver A50 VLS containing a mixture of Aster 15 and Aster 30 SAMs. The ships are also capable of firing EuroTorp A224/S Mod 3 torpedoes, and carry a Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopter with ASW equipment (they formerly operated Eurocopter AS-332M Super Pumas).

 

The Formidable class are also highly automated, operated by a complement of only 71 crew (90 including air detachment). By way of comparison, a US Oliver Hazard Perry class has a nominal compliment of 176, an Australian Anzac class a complement of 163, and a French La Fayette class a complement of 141. The Formidable class are designed to operate as the naval centrepiece of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) Integrated Knowledge-based Command and Control (IKC2) network. Integrating the advanced sensor packages and armaments of the ships to give commanders the ability to rapidly assess the battlespace and respond accordingly was a key design focus for the project. Dr Kenneth Kwok, Programme Director for Information Exploitation at the DSO national Laboratories noted: “The frigate has many state of the art weapon systems and sensor systems, but it is really how you put them together and integrate them into a fighting system that makes the difference”.

 

Six Formidable class frigates were built, with all but RSS Formidable being built by Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine) at their Benoi Shipyard, in Singapore. Construction of the class ran from late 2002 until mid-2006, with all ships being commissioned by January 2009. All are currently active, and form the 185 Squadron of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). The RSS Formidable was Singapore’s contribution to the forces conducting RIMPAC 2012, operating in conjunction with participants from twenty-one other nations. Singapore’s incumbent Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, has confirmed that a Formidable class frigate (and the attached S-70B) will soon deploy to the Gulf of Aden as part of Singapore’s contribution to CTF-151.

This piece originally appeared as two separate posts at our Aussie partners’ Security Scholar blog, check it out for more photos on the above ship classes. 

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