The French Navy soon will have a uniform baker's dozen fleet of mine countermeasures ships. The former Belgian Navy Tripartite-class mine hunter Iris is seen here being rolled out of a repair hall in her new colors on 21 March, prior to transfer to the French Navy as the Verseau. Faced with a shortage of mine countermeasures assets with the decommissioning of its five Circe-class mine hunters (four this year, one in 1998), the French Navy purchased three surplus Belgian ships for delivery in March, June, and September of 1997. In addition to the Iris, France has bought the Fuchsia (renamed Cephee) and Dianthus (renamed Capricorne). The 605-ton Belgian trio, completed only a decade ago and laid up in 1993, make a near-perfect match to the ten Tripartites already in French service. Belgium retains seven Tripartites (one adapted as a munitions transport), and the Netherlands has 15 soon-to-bemodernized sisters. Two others were built for Indonesia, and under a 1992 contract, Pakistan purchased one French Navy example and ordered two new units, one of which employs a French-built hull fitted out at Karachi.
By A.D. Baker III, Author, Combat Fleets of the World