Joint Support Ship Karel Doorman left for the Caribbean on Monday 11 April. The Dutch Ministry of Defence has sent the naval vessel to support the civil authorities in the fight against the corona crisis. The ship will initially be deployed for three months.

The Karel Doorman is to offer versatile and rapidly deployable capacity. This includes, for example, transport support so that the islanders receive food. If desired, the naval vessel can also support the coastguard in maritime border surveillance.

The vessel can also serve as a base of operations, such as for the rapid landing of personnel and equipment to support the local authorities in maintaining public order. The ship also has medical facilities at its disposal to support local health care in emergency care not related to COVID.

Helicopters and Marines

Two Cougar transport helicopters of the Defence Helicopter Command are also on board the Karel Doorman. The helicopters are available for medical transport/evacuations. The ship has medical teams: one with surgical capacity, the other for basic onshore care.

Drones of the Army and Navy will possibly take care of image building in the area. Marine units are also on board with vehicles and landing crafts so that there is transport capacity in the area. If necessary, an extra marine unit will be flown in. Additionally, the ship carries a hurricane emergency aid package.

The local governments of the Caribbean have submitted various requests for assistance in recent weeks. In these requests, the Ministry of Defence was asked to help combat the COVID-19 virus.

Other naval ships in the area

The Karel Doorman joins ocean-going patrol vessel HNLMS Zeeland. France and the United Kingdom each also have a navy ship in the area. With these countries a coordination cell has been set up on Martinique to cooperate where necessary. This enables the Karel Doorman to supply these ships with fuel.