Vince Wood BEng AMRINA

vince@navalarchitect.org.uk


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Minesweeper Inshore Merksem

 

 

The Vessel

Merksem is an ex-106' minesweeper of the Belgian navy designed to clear World War II mines from the River Scheldt. She was launched in 1958 and commissioned the following year, the beginning of a long career that lasted into the late nineties. Merksem was the last of her class to be retired from service. The latter part of her career she served as a patrol boat with the magnetic and acoustic sweep gear and the distinctive cable reel removed from the upper deck. She did however retain the winch and davits for the mechanical sweep.The ship was bought in 2001 by Stefan Botte and Dave Wood as a speculative venture with a view to refurbishment to a better than new condition and eventual sale. The ship is of an incredibly strong wooden construction having been designed to withstand mines exploding in close proximity, the frames are oak with douglas fir stringers, the shell consists of about 1.5'' of mahogany with an additional layer of oak below the waterline and the deck is 2.5'' of teak. All metal fittings are silicon bronze, copper or aluminium to reduce the magnetic signature so she should polish up nicely!

Specification (as built)

 
Length between perpendiculars 106'
Displacement 120t
Speed 15kts
Armament

2 x 20mm Oerlikon

Machinery
Propulsion
Minesweeping generator
Ships generators
Winch
Davits
 
2 x 700 kW Mercedes Benz V12 diesels
700 kW Mercedes Benz V12 diesel
2 x 60kW 120V D.C.Gardiner
18hp
2 x 1000kg, 2 x 500kg

The Plan

I got involved with the project two years ago overseeing most of the work on the ship and developing a plan for conversion to a live aboard dive ship or luxury charter yacht. As a dive ship the winch and davits at the stern  would be retained giving the ability to deploy any equipment needed over the stern. The forward engine room will be stripped out and a new section of superstructure built. The internal arrangements will be revised to provide on the lower deck four double cabins, galley and saloon and on the main deck three double cabins. The aft accommodation will be retained for the crew. Showers, additional heads and a revised heating system will also be fitted. A dive compressor and stowage for diving equipment will be in a semi enclosed  space over the engine room. Considerable progress has been made on the vessel to date with the starboard generator restored to working condition and most of the ships electrics operable. For any enquiries about the vessel please contact David Wood.

 


Merksem en route to her current berth in Antwerp


Merksem alongside in Antwerp


18hp winch and davits