Sunday , April 2 2023

Royal Netherlands Navy conquers hearts an minds on 525th anniversary

After having performed hurricane exercises in the other Dutch Caribbean Windward Islands, writes The Daily Herald, the Royal Netherlands Navy arrived on Saba to hold a series of public events at Fort Bay Harbour on Tuesday. From 9:00am to 1:00pm more than 400 visitors attended the public events organized by the Royal Dutch Navy in the “Navy Village” set up in the harbour. A whole marine company, made up of three platoons, came ashore, assisted by other navy personnel who brought their number up to some 150 people.

The marines organized competition games on shore and took the youth on speedboats onboard HNLMS Pelikaan for tours of the vessel. The marines’ interaction with the local population created a great capital of trust in the institution and even potential interest in local youth joining the navy. Maartje van der Maas, Communication Advisor for the Marines, said these organized games had a great impact, especially on the children.

The ‘Navy Village” hosted a Navy booth, a Caribbean Netherlands Coast Guard booth, a stand organized by the Saba Conservation Foundation and one by the Fire Brigade. The Dutch Navy handed out anniversary caps and materials celebrating the 525 years of the navy’s existence. In the evening the marines played a basketball game against a local team at Juliana’s Sports Field in The Bottom and Van der Maas made sure to mention that the Saba team seemed to be winning, before the weather interrupted the game. Participants in the Navy Village, especially the youth, really enjoyed the simulated shooting practice booth said Van der Maas. They were keen to use the gun lunettes and to learn about them directly from the marines. Other games involved climbing competitions and there was a camouflage make-up booth, where marines painted the faces of the youth and talked to them about what joining the navy involved. The constant flow of people was answered by the marines with revolving trips onboard the vessel, where some of the elated visitors got to sit in the captain’s chair.

On Wednesday afternoon, starting at 2:00pm and ending at 4:00pm, the Royal Netherlands Navy organized a disaster simulation, supervised by the local Disaster Committee members and implemented by their departments, such as the Fire Department, the Ambulance and Red Cross service. Seven marines played the role of accident victims. The scenario designed by the Navy involved a blast at the electricity generators in the harbour, resulting in an added car accident that blocked the road, further impeding the emergency response. The assessment of local preparedness was done individually within the various response teams, but with professional supervision from the fire department personnel brought by the marines from Bonaire.

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