The four ships of the De Zeven Provincien-class of the Royal Netherlands Navy are primarily used in the air defense and command roles. These are all-modern stealth warships outfitted with capable machinery (offering strong performance), stout armament, and advanced sensors and processing systems. Four ships make up the class with the lead unit being HNLMS De Zeven Provincien herself. The types entered commissioned service in 2002 and currently (2018) enjoy active status within the Dutch fleet today. The group has been used to succeed the aging two-strong Tromp-class frigate ships built during the 1970s.
The ships were born from a three-nation venture involving Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands - all nations with strong shipbuilding pedigrees. This led to the former parties adopting the same class under different localized names: "Sachsen" and "Alvaro de Bazan", respectively. For the Dutch, the ships became the De Zeven Provincien-class and they are formally classified as guided-missile stealth "destroyers" though the class is also seen as guided-missile stealth "frigates" in some sources as the lines between the two ship types grow evermore blurred with each passing decade.
HNLMS De Zeven Provincien (F802) was ordered in February of 1995 and saw her keel laid down on September 1st, 1998. She was launched to sea on April 8th, 2000, being formally commissioned into service on April 26th, 2002. Like her sisters, this warship was constructed by the specialists of the storied (est. 1875) Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding yard of Vlissingen, Netherlands.
The warship is built with great attention given to reduction/retardation of radar signature, heat signature, electrical output, acoustic levels and-the-like. Slab-siding, an unbroken hull line, clean exterior, enclosed exterior structures, and low profile sections add to the stealth-minded nature of the vessel. In addition to this, much care has been placed internally to minimize the effects of a detonation - designed to contain disastrous effects through skillful use of insulation, strong bulkheads, and general channeling/deflection of blasts. The warship also sports, not one, but two wholly-independent "citadel" command centers to maintain the line-of-command structure of the ship (and fleet) should the worst befall it. These citadels are also further protected by a complete Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) suite in the event of a dirty war being fought on the high seas.
Thales Naval Nederland (Signaal) supplies the advanced SEWACO XI combat data system, the heart and soul of the vessel, as well as its SMART-L long-range air-and-surface surveillance radar. The same firm delivers its APAR air-and-surface-search tracking-and-guidance I-band radar system. A DECCA NAV unit serves as the ship's navigational radar aid and the Thales Nederland Sirius IRST is a long-range InfraRed (IR) surviellance-and-tracking fit. Hidden in the bow section is the Atlas Elektronik DSQS-24C sonar array. The IFF system is the MK XIII series while the Thales "Sabre" serves as the ship's Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) installation.
Armament is a mix of projectile- and missile-based weaponry - helping De Zeven Provincien reach its broad multi-mission potential. The former includes 1 x 127mm /54 caliber OTO-Melara Dual-Purpose (DP) turreted deck gun at the forecastle, up to 2 x 30mm "Goalkeeper" Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs), up to 6 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns, and up to 6 x 7.62mm general purpose machine guns. The latter is led by a 40-cell Mk.41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) bank capable of firing from a stock of 32 x SM-2 IIIA surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) or 32 x Evolved Sea Sparrow medium-ranged SAMs (the latter supplied in self-contained quadruple packs). Beyond this there are two quad-launchers housing the American "Harpoon" wave-riding anti-ship missile giving the warship a good ranged weapon against surface combatants. The vessel also carries 2 x Mk.32 Mod 9 twin torpedo launchers firing the Raytheon Mk 46 Mod 5 anti-submarine/anti-ship torpedo family.
The turreted deck gun is mounted at the "A" position over the bow with unfettered views around the frontal quadrant of the ship. Aft of this is the VLS missile back and aft of this installation is the bridge section. A wholly-enclosed mast is set atop the bridge section of the superstructure. The superstructure is divided cleanly between a fore and an aft end. The smoke funnels are found at midships and are of a low-profile design, cranked outwards from centerline. The secondary superstructure sports a short radar-equipped mast and hangar for servicing a helicopter. The helipad is set over the stern section of the ship.
A crew of 174 is typical (including air wing personnel) and this balloons to 202 when including a full command staff. The air wing is comprised of a single NHIndustries NH90 series medium-lift helicopter or similar. This aircraft can be equipped to undertake several roles including submarine/ship hunting, general reconnaissance, Search and Rescue (SAR), and at-sea replenishment duties.
Power to the ship is through a COmbined Diesel-And-Gas (CODAG) arrangement in which both diesel and gas units work together to achieve different required actions - either sprinting or general cruising. 2 x Wartsila 16 V26 marine diesels output 5,600 horsepower each and 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey SM IC gas turbines are rated at 24,800 horsepower each. There are also 4 x Wartsila-Deutz D620 V12 diesel-generators adding a further 2,250 horsepower each and all this drives power to 2 x Shafts under stern.
The warship can make headway at speeds of 30 knots and range out to 4,600 miles. Dimensions include a length of 473 feet, a beam of 62 feet, and a draught of 17 feet. Displacement is 6,050 tonnes under full loads.
The Royal Dutch Navy does not field a deep collection of ships when compared to the naval powers of the world but the ships on hand are very advanced and modern for their roles. They are largely of Dutch origin and incorporate some foreign weapons such as the Italian deck gun and American missiles. Its air defense capabilities have been proven against aerial drone targets with an excellent success rate thus far.