The His Majesty Zeeland, the Dutch Defence ship that provided tremendous assistance to the Windward Islands after Hurricane Irma, arrived back in the Netherlands on Friday. (Dutch Defence photo)
THE HAGUE–Awaited by a large number of family members and friends, the crew of the His Majesty Zeeland arrived back at its home port Den Helder Friday morning. The Zeeland played an instrumental part in providing emergency relief after Hurricane Irma.
Embraces and kisses were shared and a few tears shed with the crew who had been gone to the Caribbean for four months. The patrol ship, which was stationed in the Caribbean as part of the permanent Defence presence in the region, had a very busy last two months.
Packed with relief goods and military manpower from Aruba for the Windward Islands, the ship arrived in St. Maarten shortly after Hurricane. The maritime NH90 board helicopter immediately flew out to make a reconnaissance flight over the island in make a first assessment of the damage. The video shots that were taken from the air were among some of the first footage that was released, giving an impression of the mass destruction.
The go-fast vessels of the Zeeland, the FRISCs carried out an assessment of the harbour to determine the damage under water and to the piers. These small vessels also provided (technical) support to the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard unit stationed in St. Maarten.
Defence personnel assisted on the island with the distribution of relief goods, helped with maintaining security on the island, including the securing of vital infrastructure and the prison, and carried out urgent repairs. The Zeeland also produced much-needed potable water.
On September 22, the Zeeland left for Dominica to give emergency aid in Dominica after Hurricane Maria. The ship assisted in making a preliminary assessment of the damage, carried out medical evacuations and brought relief goods.
In total, the Zeeland produced 154,300 litre drinking water for St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba and Dominica. The ship brought 77,000 litre bottled water, 24,000 kilo high energy biscuits, 19,500 kilo other food and 2,200 diesel to the affected islands. In total 48 medical evacuations were carried out.
Supporting the civil and local authorities by offering emergency aid before, during and after disasters is one of the of the main tasks of Dutch Defence in the Caribbean. Aside from this task, the station ship carries out Coast Guard and counter-drugs operations.
Having just started the voyage back to the Netherlands after four intense months, the Zeeland was involved in a Coast Guard operation in which 600 kilo cocaine was caught in the sea north-east of Bonaire on October 31. The suspects and the drugs were taken to Curaçao, after which the ship resumed its voyage. The His Majesty Van Speijk will succeed the Zeeland as station ship and left Den Helder on October 29.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/70895-zeeland-back-in-the-netherlands