On Thursday 21 April 2022, His Majesty King Philippe visited the new research vessel RV Belgica. On this occasion, the Belgian Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Belgian Army (the naval component provides the bridge personnel and the homeport of Zeebrugge) was received and accompanied by Mr. Thomas Dermine, Secretary of State in charge of Science Policy, Mr. Arnaud Vajda, President of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), Mrs. Patricia Supply, General Director a.i. of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Mr. Léandre Brehier, Administrative and Financial Director of Genavir, and of course by RV Belgica Captain Gaëtan Motmans and RBINS coordinator of the RV Belgica Mr. Lieven Naudts.
During a short trip at sea, the importance and functioning of the RV Belgica were extensively explained. This attracted great interest from King Philippe, which translated into many questions to those involved.
The programme started with an expert explanation of the ship and its scientific programme by Captain Gaëtan Motmans and Belgica coordinator Lieven Naudts. Their words formed the perfect stepping stone to some demonstrations of the various scientific activities that Belgian and international scientists can carry out thanks to the RV Belgica, and which put our country at the forefront of marine scientific research internationally. Attention was paid to biological, chemical, physical, geological and hydrodynamic research, and the demonstrations included both sampling (water and seabed samples) and laboratory activities (with thanks to the crew of the RV Belgica, and to Laura Lemey and Coenraad Deputter – ILVO, David Van Rooij – Ugent, and Kyra Gesquiere and Tom Scholdis – KBIN). Subsequently, King Philippe took the time for more extensive converstion with Belgica regulars. In addition to the persons mentioned above, 2nd Commander Anthony Willaert, Chief Engineer Antoine Samzun and Chief Electrician Andrejs Jankins of the RV Belgica were given the honour to talk with the King, as well as Mr Patrick Roose, Operational Director Natural Environment of the RBINS, Mrs Alice Matossian (Ugent), Mr Kris Hostens (ILVO) and Mr Michael Fettweis (RBINS).
On the occasion of his visit, King Philippe also signed the Golden Book of the new RV Belgica.
After the event, the RV Belgica got ready for her first international campaign, the same afternoon she set sail for the Mediterranean Sea.