Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten. (Suzanne Koelega photo).
THE HAGUE–The Dutch Defence ship HMNLS Karel Doorman for now will not be returning to the Dutch Caribbean to assist with the coronavirus crisis.
Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said on Friday she had not received a formal request from any of the Dutch Caribbean countries to deploy the Navy ship to the region. “Naturally, we are keeping a close watch on the developments.”
Bijleveld-Schouten said for now there was no reason to deploy the ship to the Caribbean, and pointed out that the requesting of assistance was primarily a decision that the governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten had to take. “Normally, we respond to an official request.”
The minister was responding to last week’s suggestion of the Democratic Party D66 in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to have HMNLS Karel Doorman, which has a hospital on board, return to the islands.
D66 Members of Parliament (MPs) Rob Jetten and Jan Paternotte want the Dutch government to consider deploying the ship, the largest of the Dutch Navy, once more to the Dutch Caribbean due to the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Aruba and St. Maarten.
HMNLS Karel Doorman was sent to the Caribbean in April and spent a few weeks on the islands, with the crew and additional Marines on board providing assistance with, among other things, the transporting of sick persons and maintaining public order during the islands’ curfews. The ship returned to the Netherlands late June.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/defence-ship-not-to-islands