Damen Shipyards Galati has laid the keel for the Royal Netherlands Navy’s (RNLN) combat support ship (CCS) ‘Den Helder’, marking a key construction milestone.

Defence Material Organisation (DMO) director vice-admiral Arie Jan de Waard and RNLN Commander vice-admiral Rob Kramer performed the keel laying ceremony.

In December last year, the first steel for this new vessel was cut at the shipyard in Romania.

Following the keel-laying ceremony, all the building blocks are now ready for the actual construction of the ship.

The engineering of the CCS has been largely executed in the Netherlands.

The vessel will help restore the navy’s maritime supply capacity and can perform operations across the globe, even under high threats, under the protection of frigates.

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It will work together with the Joint Support Ship (JSS) HNLMS Karel Doorman.

Some of the missions that the vessel will conduct include combatting drug trafficking, monitoring refugee flows and providing emergency assistance.

Damen Naval division director Hein van Ameijden said: “More than a year after signing the contract for this ship, Damen Naval has concluded 116 purchase contracts, of which 82 are with Dutch suppliers.

“These are with companies coming mostly from the Rijnmond and Zeeland areas. It is this entire chain of companies that contributes to the construction of this new ship for the RNLN.”

Damen noted that the CCS will be christened, and construction is expected to complete in 2023.

Upon completion of the commissioning, testing and shipyard trials, the vessel will sail to Den Helder, where the accessories and the combat management system of the ship will be installed before it is transferred to the navy in 2025.