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Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) Operations

The ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy have for years now been a permanent part of NATO's Standing Naval Force Atlantic and Standing Naval Force Mediterranean. Mine countermeasure vessels form part of NATO's Mine Countermeasure Forces North and South. These NATO flotillas were established in order to be able to take action immediately if the need arises, either within or beyond the NATO treaty area. These flotillas were incorporated into the NATO Response Force. The navy maintains very intensive cooperation with the Belgian navy. The operational staffs of the two navies have been amalgamated. The fleet units of both countries work together under the command of Admiral BENELUX in the Belgian-Netherlands Task Group.

The Royal Netherlands Navy protects the territory and territorial waters of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. For this purpose there is a permanent naval presence in the Caribbean, made up of one frigate (the guard ship for the Caribbean), one auxiliary vessel and several marine units.

In both the Netherlands and the Caribbean, the Royal Netherlands Navy has operational command of the Coastguard. In addition, naval units are regularly engaged in coastguard activities. The Coastguard's duties include search-and-rescue operations at sea, the enforcement of shipping legislation, fisheries inspection and monitoring compliance with environmental regulations. In the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba the Coastguard devotes itself almost entirely to combating drug trafficking. The Royal Netherlands Navy is also tasked with the disposal of explosive ordnance, such as Second World War sea mines, and with conducting hydrographic surveys for the production of nautical charts.

In the 1990s, the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) concentrated mainly on tactics and procedures developed within the context of NATO. In December 2005 it published its own Service doctrine, the Guideline for Maritime Operations (GMO). It relies particularly on NATO's perspective on naval operations and the views of main Allies. Traditionally the Netherlands navy has been focused on anti-submarine warfare in the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap, and land-attack capability in the Netherlands navy is virtually non-existent. In the new operational environment, the role of the Netherlands navy will be defined by how well they can contribute to a joint and combined operation that eventually focuses on land.

With a view to internal and external security, the Dutch armed forces must be able to operate far beyond the national borders, for long periods of time and in cooperation with other countries. The Royal Netherlands Navy makes an important contribution to this joint expeditionary capability. Its ships are able to operate independently or in an Allied context, anywhere in the world, without crossing borders. This makes them particularly suited to deployment in crisis management and peacekeeping operations. Units of the Marine Corps can be deployed for land operations or amphibious operations in order to pave the way for other units or to quickly end crises independently. In the future, the Royal Netherlands Navy will focus even more on deployment in littoral waters in support of land operations.

In the past few years, elements of the Royal Netherlands Navy, including the Marine Corps, have proved their worth in crisis management and humanitarian operations, and the fight against international terrorism. Besides the various contributions made to humanitarian missions, in 2000 a battalion of marines was also deployed in the UNMEE mission, forming the main force on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea for a period of six months. Since September 2001, Dutch surface vessels, submarines and aircraft have been deployed on several occasions in the Middle East as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (the fight against international terrorism). In the Caribbean, frigates, patrol aircraft and a submarine replaced American units (as backfill operations for Enduring Freedom) in the fight against drug trafficking and other illegal activities. Dutch frigates deployed in Operation Active Endeavour, monitoring shipping in the Mediterranean for terrorism-related activities.

The maritime patrol aircraft regularly operated over the Balkans, registering movements on the ground for SFOR and KFOR. The amphibious transport ship (with helicopters, landing craft and a surgical team on board) served as a hospital ship for the UN peace force in Liberia (UNMIL) in 2003/2004. During this operation the Hydrographic Service also charted the sea off the Liberian coast.

From the summer of 2003 to March 2004, two battalions of the Marine Corps were deployed (each for four months) as part of the Stabilisation Force in Iraq (SFIR). The marines worked to provide security and stability in the southern province of Al Muthanna and helped create conditions for the reconstruction of Iraq.

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Page last modified: 01-12-2011 13:31:09 ZULU