Belgium Postpones Frigate Deployment To Red Sea After It Failed Several Tests During Training

Frigate
Image Credits: Belgian Navy/Twitter

Belgium’s Defense Ministry reported on Monday that it had postponed its deployment of the frigate Louise-Marie to the waters of the Red Sea indefinitely after the vessel failed several technical tests while in training.

The ministry declined to offer details in an emailed statement to the Defense News, noting operational security.

A website named marineschepen.nl reported a RIM-7 Sea Sparrow air-defence missile failed owing to a launch amid a simulated drone attack, getting stuck in the launch tube.

At the same time, the other defence systems also ceased to function to down the practice drone.

In addition to 16 air-defence missile launch cells, the Louise-Marie boasts a 76mm cannon Oto Melara, a Goalkeeper close-in weapon system, and machine guns.

Belgium is at least the third European country to suffer technical mishaps connected to the international mission to safeguard shipping lanes in the waters of the Red Sea, where Houthis have continued to target marine traffic with drones and missiles.

The Danish frigate Iver Huitfeldt also suffered many malfunctions that encouraged a hurried return home, while Germany’s Hessen incorrectly fired two interceptors at one U.S. MQ-9 drone, both of which were missing.

The Louise-Marie, one of the two frigates of Belgium, stays in the Mediterranean and sails via the Suez Canal, scheduled initially for 12 April, but has been deferred, the Defense Ministry declared in an emailed statement.

The vessel departed from the Belgian Navy base in Zeebrugge on 10 March.

The ministry said that the general staff and onboard commander have decided to extend the frigate’s training because previous training and technical tests did not achieve the intended results.

The identified deficiencies are being analyzed, and appropriate adjustments will be made to continue the mission to the operational theatre.

Louise-Marie intends to participate in the European heads Aspides and Agenor missions, and now it will continue its preparatory training.

The frigate was developed in the Netherlands between 1985 and 1989 to assist the Dutch Navy and was eventually sold off to Belgium in 2005.

The ministry commented that the safety and preparation of personnel are essential. There will be zero compromises on that front.

Denmark also fired its chief of defence after he failed to disclose crucial weapon and mission-system issues on the Iver Huitfeldt for a substantial period.

In the meantime, US, French, and British frigates have destroyed dozens of anti-ship ballistic missiles and drones in the waters of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, as the Houthis have attacked shipping as a response to the Israeli war in Gaza.

The Houthis have managed to damage multiple vessels over the recent months, sinking the UK-owned bulk carrier named Rubymar on 2 March and striking the vessel with an anti-ship ballistic missile on 18 February.

The attacks resulted in a drop in Suez Canal trade in the first two months of 2024 by almost 50% from a year before, the IMF mentioned in March.

Reference: Defense News

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