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Former Dutch minesweepers arrive in Varna for new service life with Bulgarian Navy

Bulgarian Navy minesweepers
Photo: Bulgarian Navy

Two former Royal Netherlands Navy Alkmaar-class minesweepers have completed their journey to Varna, Bulgaria, where they will start new lives as Bulgarian Navy vessels.

They arrived onboard semi-submersible heavy lift vessel Super Servant 4 on September 23, after the Bulgarian government bought them in November 2019 for two million euros.

Originally built for the Royal Netherlands Navy between 1984 and 1986, the two ships were overhauled in 2005 before being decommissioned in 2011.

Bulgaria’s defense ministry said the vessels would enhance the capabilities of its navy and enable it to meet its tasks in national and international operations as part of EU and NATO missions in the Black Sea.

The Bulgarian Navy already operates one Tripartite-class minesweeper which was acquired in 2004 from the Belgian Navy. After an overhaul phase in 2009, the former M922 Myosotis became operational within the Bulgarian fleet and renamed Tsibar.

Photo: Bulgarian Navy

Tripartite-class were built for the navies of Belgium, France and the Netherlands and were also known as Éridan- and Alkmaar-class in France and the Netherlands. Exported versions of the decommissioned ships are currently in service with the navies of Bulgaria, Indonesia, Latvia and Pakistan.

Belgium and the Netherlands are currently building a new class of mine countermeasures vessels as a successor for the Tripartites.

Bulgaria is also in the process of expanding its fleet and has recently started talks with German shipbuilder Luerssen for the purchase on new patrol vessels.