7 June 2019

Recently, Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen in the southwest of the Netherlands has welcomed Portuguese naval vessel, Bartolomeu Dias. The vessel is no stranger to the yard, having been built originally – by the Royal Schelde (now Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding) – for the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) in 1994. The vessel, then named Hr. Ms.Van Nes, was one of eight sister vessels. In 2008, the RNLN sold six of the vessels – two to Belgium, two to Chile and two to Portugal – while maintaining two for its own fleet.

“The Royal Netherlands Navy’s contract stipulated supporting the group of vessels after this sale,” explains Michiel de Vliegher, commercial manager at Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen.

"It makes sense when you consider they have fifteen years of operational experience with the vessel."

For Damen this setup means, essentially, having two customers to serve. “There are two project teams – a Dutch and a Portuguese one. But the cooperation between all parties is good. Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen is used to working with various parties on a project and completing this to the satisfaction of all parties. This is where our project management really makes the difference. Essentially, the project is a mid-life upgrade, the first stage of which was carried out by the RNLN in Den Helder, the Netherlands.

This stage included her being outfitted with a new, state-of-the-art mast and preparations for the second stage, for which Damen is serving as subcontractor. PNS Bartolomeu Dias arrived at Damen’s yard on February 14th.

“Our scope includes executing the mutually agreed technical specifications, mainly consisiting of all the dock-based work – steel works, underwater sections, cosmetics, overboards, valves, piping,” states Michiel. “Onboard a complete propulsion overhaul will take place, carrying out replacement of 40 kilometres of and cabling works, overhauling of HVAC systems and tending to the cosmetics. “We are well positioned for such a project. Not only do we have the experience and knowledge in-house, we can also count on the support of DSNS who, as Royal Schelde, originally built these vessels. Having seen the high quality of this vessel 25 years down the line, I would say they did an excellent job!” The vessel was originally constructed as part of the RNLN’s Karel Doorman class of frigates.

The class was also known as the ”M-“, or Multi-purpose, class. Each vessel was named after a famous Dutch admiral. Upon commencing service with the Portuguese Navy, the vessel was renamed Bartolomeu Dias after the Portuguese nobleman and explorer; the first European to lay anchor in South Africa.

Upon completion of the phase of works conducted by Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen, the Bartolomeu Dias will undergo towage back to Den Helder. There, she will receive new weapons and communications systems and trials, being the final stage before returning to service, in 2020, for NATO operations.


Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding
Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen
Joint Support Ship RNLN 'HNLM Karel Doorman'


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