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HNLMS Mercuur (A900)
Zr. Ms. Mercuur afgemeerd in Den Helder.jpg
HNLMS Mercuur (A900) (Min. of Defence)
Career (Netherlands)
Name: Mercuur
Operator:  Royal Netherlands Navy
Ordered: June 1984
Builder: Koninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde
Laid down: 16 November 1985
Launched: 16 October 1987
Commissioned: 21 August 1987
Identification:
Status: in active service
General characteristics
Type: Submarine support ship
Displacement: approx. 1400 ton
Length: 64.4 m (211 ft 3 in)
Beam: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Draught: 4.3 m (14 ft 1 in)
Propulsion: 2 MAN 6L-20/27 diesel
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Armament:

Mark 48 torpedoes

2x 20mm machine gun

HNLMS Mercuur (A900) is a submarine support ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The ship was built and designed specially to support the Dutch submarines. She entered service on 21 August 1987, and is the only surface vessel attached to the Dutch submarine service.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

The former torpedo ship HNLMS Mercuur was in need of replacement at beginning of the early 1970s.[2] She was a minesweeper of the Aggressive-class and re-purposed in 1972 as a submarine support ship.[3] The ship, however, was due her age not adequately equipped to fulfill the tasks the Royal Netherlands Navy wanted to use her for, so in 1977 the Royal Netherlands Navy started to make plans and designs for her replacement. The new ship would also be called Mercuur and named after the planet Mercury.[3] This name was always given to ships that were not meant for combat, but rather had a support function.[3] The design of the new ship was especially tailored made for submarine support tasks. The new Mercuur could, for example, hoist torpedoes onto deck with a special hoisting installation which was constructed at the backside of the ship. The ship can also do launch tests for the MK48 torpedo, which are used by the all Dutch submarines since the Zwaardvis-class submarines entered service in the 1970s. The design has also a retractable bow thruster with which the Mercuur can accurately approach a submarine to retrieve her torpedoes, which have been shot during a excerise at the Mercuur. Like the water-filled hydrographic research vessel of the Royal Netherlands Navy it has a sling damper system.[4]

In 1985 the construction of the new HNLMS Mercuur began.[2] The Royal Netherlands Navy signed a contract with Koninklijke Maatschappij de Schelde (now known as Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding) to built the ship. The contract was placed to make sure no yard worker would be fired, since shipbuilder De Schelde struggled at the time with orders, so it had to lay off workers if the situation did not change.[4] The order can therefore be seen as subsidy. On 6 November 1985 the keel was laid and on 16 October 1986 the Mercuur was launched. On 21 August 1987 the ship HNLMS Mercuur was put into service and has been serving ever since, with a minor break for implementing upgrades during her modernization.[3] She has served several Dutch submarines during her service. Besides the current Walrus-class submarines that are in active duty, they have also supported the previous active Zwaardvis-class submarines and even the older Dolfijn-class submarines during their last years of service in the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Modernization[edit | edit source]

In 2015 Damen Group won an order for the maintenance and modernization of the torpedo support ship HNLMS Mercuur.[5] The ship will would undergo modifications including; a different design of the bridge, a whole range of new electronic equipment, and a reinforced bow.[6] Damen also announced that the interior of the Mercuur would re-designed, such as the kitchen and living quarters. The Mercuur arrived on 7 September 2015 at Damen Shipyards Den Helder for her modernization to start. It was towed to Damen Shiprepair Harlingen for the final phase of the refurbishment six months later.[6] After the modernization is complete, the Mercuur is expected to stay in service in the Royal Netherlands Navy till at least 2025.[5] However, the Mercuur will be replaced before 2034 alongside other navy ships.[7]

In April 2017 the modernized HNLMS Mercuur took part in a shakedown cruise to test her upgrades.[8]

Support role[edit | edit source]

Mercuur has several tasks that all involve supporting the Dutch submarines.[9] Firstly, Mercuur will always take part in training exercises which involve the submarines of the Royal Netherlands Navy, during these exercises Mercuur functions mostly as target ship. Another task of the Mercuur is that it performs tests and experiments with torpedoes that are used by the four Dutch submarines. Besides tests and experiments it also performs maintenance on the torpedoes.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Defensie, Ministerie van. "Zr. Ms. Mercuur" (in nl-NL). https://www.defensie.nl/organisatie/marine/eenheden/schepen/zr-ms-mercuur. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Torpedowerkschip". www.navyinside.nl. http://www.navyinside.nl/frontpage/torpedowerkschip. Retrieved 11 May 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Mercuur overleeft ‘aanslag’". www.defensie.nl. https://magazines.defensie.nl/materieelgezien/2017/07/04-mercuur. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Zr.Ms. Mercuur (A900) Torpedowerkschip". www.marineschepen.nl. 13 April 2017. https://marineschepen.nl/schepen/mercuur.html. Retrieved 11 May 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Damen Shipyards gaat Zr. Ms. Mercuur moderniseren". www.maritiemnederland.com. 11 June 2015. http://www.maritiemnederland.com/nieuws/modernisering-en-levensverlenging-van-zr.-ms.-mercuur/item1660. Retrieved 11 June 2018. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Werkzaamheden aan Zr.Ms. Mercuur in volle gang". www.marineschepen.nl. 8 April 2016. https://marineschepen.nl/nieuws/Instandhoudingsprogramma-Mercuur-in-volle-gang-080416.html. Retrieved 11 June 2018. 
  7. KVMO, "Nut en noodzaak onderzeeboten: deltaplan voor defensie" Marineblad Maart 2016 nr 2 Jaargang 126, pg. 5
  8. "Ze ligt klaar voor de proefvaart. Morgen na goedkeuring van de MZA mag #zrmsmercuur naar zee!". twitter.com. 12 April 2017. https://twitter.com/RikWoertman/status/852233512321265664. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 
  9. "Torpedowerkschip". https://www.defensie.nl/organisatie/marine/materieel/schepen/torpedowerkschip. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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