The governmental approval now authorizes the Bulgarian Defense Minister, Krassimir Karakatchanov, to conclude an intergovernmental agreement with the Netherlands. The purchase of two former Dutch Navy minesweepers was first announced in September, when the Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Velichkov. According him, the total budget was then worth EUR3.5 million, with an extra EUR1.5 million to be spent for the vessels’ upgrade.
The Bulgarian Navy already operates one Tripartite-class minesweeper it acquired in 2004 from the Belgian fleet. After an overhaul phase in 2009, the former M922 Myosotis became operational within the Bulgarian fleet and renamed « Tsibar ».
The Tripartite-class MCM ships were built in the 1980s for the Belgian, Dutch and French navies. A total of 40 ships have been produced, with some of them gradually sold or transferred to Pakistan, Indonesia, Latvia and Bulgaria.
On its part, the Royal Netherlands Navy will start replacing its ageing fleet of MCM vessels from 2023. Under the MCM program launched with the Belgian Navy, the two navies are to be equipped with around 100 drones, constituting approximately ten drone systems (toolboxes). Six ships are destined for the Dutch Navy, while the other six will be delivered to the Belgian Navy.