Bernisse - AMS60

Former BNS Spa (M-927)


Bernisse is a coastal minesweeper, built at the Boelwerf, Temse, Belgium as an Adjutant-class motor minesweeper (AMS) as part of MDAP.

She was laid down as 'Spa' (M-927) in June of 1953, and launched on Monday 21 June 1954, sponsored by Mrs. Spinoy.
In 1978 she became an ammo transport and was reclassified A-963. In this capacity she stayed in service until 1993 and was sold to the Paradijsvogel foundation in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1997. The foundation moves her from Willebroek, Belgium to Rotterdam, Netherlands. A day after departure under her new name 'Paradijsvogel'  engine cooling sytem issues prevented her from making the trip under her own power. After two days at anchor she was brought to Rotterdam with a tugs assistance.

Several years of maintenance and engine overhaul follow, followed by sea-trials in September 1999, followed by a second trial run in June 2000.
After a period of Paradijsvogel foundation board-member quarrels the board resigns and the foundation falls apart, but with the help of a new bunch of enthusiasts a new start takes place. Almost all the money donated by donors and sponsors is spent on the restoration of the ship. More and more nautical events are being visited where a reasonable fee is asked for the fuel costs and profit is also made by publicly paying the ship for a fee. Especially Belgium, the motherland embraces the ship with great enthusiasm and especially the annual event "Oostende voor Anker" provides enough money to be able to continue with the restoration in the winter months.

The name 'Paradijsvogel' regularly provokes wrong associations, apparently a partyship or a sex boat is expected......  When searching for another name, a connection is sought with the type of minesweepers of this class in the Netherlands. This class, of which the Royal Netherlands Navy had 14 in use, was known as the "Beemster class". All ships were given a name of a town or village starting with the B. De Beemster was the first in line. Then followed the Bedum, Brielle, Bruinisse and so on. All these ships were now out of service but the tradition forbids the use of an already used name. Because Paradijsvogel is now berthing in Hellevoetsluis they opt for the name of an adjoining village, Bernisse. In 2002 the Bird of Paradise is renamed Bernisse by the Mayor of Bernisse.

At the end of 2004,  a short circuit causes an engine room fire, The fire brigade has the fire under control quickly but the damage is considerable. After a months-long repair at a wharf, the Bernisse comes back into service against expectations.

After many official hurdles, they finally get a license in 2009 to get an old Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft gun from England. In the Netherlands, this cannon is refurbished and reinstalled on its original foundation.

After having been in Hellevoetsluis for more than two years, there is a conflict with the municipal authorities about port dues. It is much too high creating financial problems for the Bernisse. After various temporary berthings in Maassluis and Rotterdam they end up in Hellevoetsluis again.

They are offered a contract for a year with the prospect of extension,  receive a subsidy from the port dues and plans are being developed for the construction of the Koningskade, a boulevard which we will share with the ramship the Buffel and the lightship Noord Hinder. It becomes a "customized" berth, equipped with all the facilities we need. In a beautiful location, close to the Jan Blankendok and the restaurant "Het Pomphuis".

On 6 March 2012, after almost a year of lobbying, discussions and the like, they are informed that they are welcome at a temporary berth and are again leaving for Hellevoetsluis. What a difference another town council can make! 

An agreement has been reached with all parties, the municipality starts to work energetically and a contractor constructs of a museum boulevard, called Koningskade.

At the end of March 2015 they moved to their new berth at the Koningskade. Together with the Buffalo and the Noordhinder they are situated in a beautiful location in the middle of the historic center of Hellevoetsluis. The municipality has realized the necessary facilities at the quay for the ships, which they are very pleased with.

A lot more restoration work has been done since then i.e. a damaged gearbox, cooling system of starboard main engine and a warped propellor shaft. Various sponsors have made maintenance possible, and port calls brought in some much needed financial contributions

Their website and Facebook page are updated regularly, so check them out for more information.

Museum info:
Address: Koningskade 6, 3221CC Hellevoetsluis, Netherlands
Phone: +31637320151
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