History 1954-1994  

The Bernisse [M927-Spa]

We have researched the history of the Bernisse and we have also found some timber shipmakers who have worked on this ship at Boelwerf.


M927 Spa in action


M927-Spa zoals hij er nu uitziet (AMS 60 - Bernisse)

M927-Spa as it looks now (AMS60 - Bernisse)

The Bernisse is a wooden coastal mine sweeper class AMS 60 (Adjuvant class motor Mine Sweeper.), Type MSC (Mine Sweeper Coastal) and is built on Boelwerf by analogy with sister ships built in the US. Since the beginning of WWII, around 300 of these types of ships have been built worldwide, the vast majority of them in the 1950s.

These minesweepers were used after WWII to clear the coastal waters here with us. The Dutch Navy and the Belgian Naval Force worked closely together on this. Between 1953 and 1954, the Dutch Navy received 14 minesweepers. The Belgian naval power received 26 units in the same period (M910 - M935). In the Netherlands they became known as the Beemster class.

Mutual Defense Assistance Plan (MDPA)

The major Marshall Plan (US aid program) for the reconstruction of the European countries affected by the war was a financial aid program. In addition, the MDPA was set up by the United States. This was a kind of military aid to Marshall, a program that provided military and technical supplies to European countries after the war. The Netherlands therefore received 14 minesweepers. Most of these minesweepers were built in the US but given the large numbers there are, under American supervision, also built on European yards

Of the 26 coastal minesweepers for the Belgian naval force, 4 were built at Boelwerf in Temse (M926 Mechelen, M927-Spa, M928-Stavelot, M929-Heist) and 4 at the Beliard-Crigh ton & Cº Werf in Ostend (M930-Rochefort, M931-Knokke, M932-Nieuw.poort, M933-Koksijde). All minesweepers had names of Belgian cities, nicely divided over the 2 parts of the country.
The M927 Spa, built at Boelwerf, is the only remaining ship of this and is now called "Bernisse".



For Boelwerf, this order of 4 minesweepers meant work for 400 men during 1.5 years.
The keel laying of the M927 Spa took place in June 1953. The ship was festively flagged on the water on Monday 21 June 1954 at 8:15 PM. The music chapel of the 11th brigade took care of the musical note. Z.E.H. Luystermans, dean of Temse, blessed the ship for a safe voyage.

Mrs. Spinoy, wife of the minister of national defense, accepted the measure and was allowed to cut the ribbon with the traditional ax. The bottle of champagne broke against the bow, after which the strut beams were removed and the ship slid into the Scheldt on the stacked beams covered with fat and brown soap. All this in the presence of a lot of guests of honor.



An excerpt from the speech by George Van Damme (big boss at Boelwerf, after the war) who had a great deal of respect for his workmen: “... may I also emphasize here how much our workmen enjoy working in woodworking: the craft is in their blood and is the ancestral agility when they turn this lively material into a ship ... ”In the archive we also found a list of drinks and smoking materials that were used on this launch. Quite a few cigars were consumed: 138 Corona's de Salon, 25 Senator Excellent. American cigarettes could also not be missed given the relationship of this ship with the US. In 1978 the ship was given a different function, it was built up as a transport ship for ammunition and weapons sensors and was given a different name, namely A963-Spa. The ship remained in service until 1993 and was subsequently sold. The Paradise Bird Foundation from Rotterdam purchased the ship in 1997 and has since restored it beautifully. A little later it got its current name AMS 60-Bernisse after the village of the same name near Rotterdam. As far as we have been able to find out, the Bernisse is the only sailing ship of this type in Europe. The latest achievement of the foundation is the restoration of a 40 mm Bofors AA anti-aircraft gun. The same kind of guns that originally stood on the M927 Spa. It was shown for the first time in Temse.



We also searched for shipbuilders who have worked on this ship. We had a conversation with Gilbert Van Mullem and Roger van Kerkhove, 2 wood-ship makers of the time, now early 80s. Both are gone.