The in-development Combat Support Ship (CSS) for the Royal Netherlands Navy, the future HNLMS Den Helder, has moved from drydock to the quayside following the installation of its main ship’s mast, according to manufacturer Damen.

In a social media post on 13 May, Damen stated that following the movement of Den Helder to the water the remaining work will be carried out. With two major steps in the mast installation and the ship’s main power generation underway, it is expected that work on commissioning the vessel will ramp up.

According to Damen, following the conclusion of harbour acceptance tests, the future HNLMS Den Helder is due to start its sea trials next year and will be handed over to the Netherlands Ministry of Defence in the first half of 2024.

The decision to procure the CSS for the Royal Netherlands Navy was announced by the Dutch Government in December 2019, with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding signing a contract with the Defence Defence Material Organization in February 2020. Construction is taking place at Damen’s shipyards in Romania, with final outfitting due to take place at the company’s site in Den Helder, Netherlands.

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Delivery is on schedule for Q2 2024, with the HNLMS Den Helder expected to become operational in Q2 2025. In total, the CSS project is estimated to cost €375m.

Design and features of HNLMS Den Helder

Based on the design of Karel Doorman, HNLMS Den Helder will be approximately 180m-long and will have a displacement of 22,400t. It will mainly supply fuel, ammunition and goods to other naval vessels at sea.

The vessel will have the capacity to accommodate a total of 150 personnel, with 75 crew members and 75 additional people on board. It will also offer space to house two helicopters and up to 25 containers on the upper deck.

The vessel will be fitted with a Scout Mk3 surveillance radar and an identification friend or foe (IFF) system.