Between 1985 and 1995, Dutch shipbuilder Damen Scheide Naval Shipbuilding constructed eight frigate warships to the Karel Doorman-class standard. These were commissioned from 1991 into 1995 and went on to serve the navies of the Netherlands, Belgium, Chile, and Portugal with the class still in service today (2021). The design was born from a 1970s Dutch need to succeed an aging line of Roofdier-class frigates during the Cold War period - six of these warships were built and operated since the mid-1950s.
Against this backdrop, the Karel Doorman-class was born and construction of the ship types was to be had locally in the Netherlands. The project evolved throughout the 1980s before finalization and building began of these multi-role warships. The class was eventually made up of Karel Doorman (F827), Willem van der Zaan (F829), Tjerk Hiddes (F830), Vam Amstrl (F831), Abraham van der Hulst (F832), Van Nes (F833), Van Galen (F834), and Van Spejik (F828). Just two remain in active service with the Dutch Navy today - F831 and F828 - with the rest of the lot having been sold off to allies Belgium (F827, F829), Portugal (F833, F834), and Chile (F830, F832).
As multi-mission / multi-role platforms, the Doorman-class would be equipped with surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, and anti-submarine capabilities to allow the ships to undertake virtually any at-sea sortie including deterrence, security, convoy support, submarine-hunting, and general attack.
HNLMS Karel Doorman (F827) was the lead ship of this capable group (since 2005 continuing her ocean-going career as Leopold I (F930) with the Belgian Navy. The warship was of conventional design arrangement for the 1980s with slab-sided superstructures only beginning to become prominent in warships of the period. As such, the superstructure was of stepped nature with handrails and various protrusions placed about its design. Over the forecastle was a single turreted deck gun. The bridge section was set just aft and integrated into the main mast component. The smoke funnels was positoned near midships and of an enclosed, low-profile design leading to a break in the design line to which point the aft-superstructure was seated. Aft of this was the helipad/helideck offering a rotary-wing support capability.
Beyond their multi-mission load out, the class was given enhanced Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) protection to allow it to operate in contaminated areas in the event of nuclear war against the Soviet Union. There was also attention paid in reducing the ship's radar and heat signature at range to further enhance survivability in the modern battlefield environment.
Power was from 2 x Rolls-Royce Spey 1A series gas turbines offering 16,700 horsepower to 2 x Shafts. 2 x Stork-Werkspoor diesel units provided 4,895 horsepower to the same arrangement. In all, the ship could make headway at 30 knots.
Aboard was a crew of 154 and the vessel was outfitted with a plethora of sensors and processing systems including long-range 3D surveillance radar, active phased array for surface target tracking, and special tracking and illumination radar systems. Over the stern section of the hull was a hangar/flight deck combination center allowing for the launching and recovery of a single medium-lift, navalized helicopter (typically Westland Lynx).
The armament consisted of 1 x 76mm OTO Melara turreted deck gun, 16 x RIM-7 "Sea Sparrow" medium-range surface-to-air missiles with 8 x "Harpoon" anti-ship missiles, 1 x "Goalkeeper" Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 x Mark 46 twin torpedo tubes, and up to 6 x 7.62mm medium machine guns. All this was intended to cover the warship against any threat of the day.
The ships took part in NATO exercises in European waters to better train crews in joint operations against a modern foe and served jointly with American forces in anti-drug operations across the Caribbean. In the early 1990s, the type served with coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf theater.
From 1992 to 1994 the class was the target of modernization which brought up to speed sensors and communications equipment as well as the Electronic Warfare (EW) suite. Willem van der Zaan served as the prototype before the changes were gradually passed on to sister ships including Doorman.
Status Decommissioned, Out-of-Service
Complement 154 Personnel
Ship Class [ Karel Doorman-class ] Ships-in-Class [ 8 ]Ship Names:HNLMS Karel Doorman (F827); HNLMS Willem van der Zaan (F829); HNLMS Tjerk Hiddes (F830); HNLMS Van Amstel (F831); HNLMS Abraham van der Hulst (F832); HNLMS Van Nes (F833); HNLMS Van Galen (F834); HNLMS Van Spejik (F828)
Belgium (as Leopold I since 2005); Netherlands
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
401 ft (122.22 m)
Width / Beam:
47 ft (14.33 m)
Height / Draught:
20 ft (6.10 m)
2 x Rolls-Royce Spey 1A gas turbines developing 16,700 horsepower with 2 x Stork-Werkspoor marine diesels developing 4,895 horsepower to 2 x Shafts under stern.
30 kts (35 mph)
5,040 nm (5,800 miles; 9,334 km)
1 x 76mm OTO Melara turreted deck gun.
16 x RIM-7 "Sea sparrow" surface-to-air missiles in Vertical Launch System (VLS).
8 x "Harpoon" anti-ship missiles in two quadruple launchers at midships.
1 x "Goalkeeper" Close-In Weapon System (CIWS).
2 x Mark 46 twin torpedo tubes.
2 to 6 x 7.62mm medium machine guns.
1 x Westland Lynx (or similar) medium-lift navy helicopter supported through hangar/helipad combination section over the stern.
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