Commander Kristof Van Belleghem told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme De Ochtend that “The manoeuvers were to stress the importance of maintaining freedom of movement in shipping lanes so that we can move freely around the world. They show the importance we attach to this”.
Speaking in response to last weekend’s incident in which the Belgian Navy ship the Godetia was flown over low by an armed Russian fighter jet, Mr Van Belleghem said “We had the same thing the day before. As a frigate were are with our radar system better equipped which means that we get a bit more warning. We also have more mean with which to defend ourselves if necessary”.
"Russian presence during manoeuvers is a constant"
“You see that the Russian Navy tries to be very present in international waters, be that the Mediterranean or off Northern Norway. You always have to take them into account”.
Next year will be a much calmer year for the crew of Louise-Marie with a lot of training planned, but no missions. The Belgian Navy’s other frigate the Leopold I will be going out on operational duties next year.