Minister Hillen attends disaster exercise at Leeward Islands
Today, Minister of Defence Hans Hillen concluded his visit to the islands of St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. He attended a large-scale hurricane response exercise and was brought up to date on the latest developments in the Caribbean and the work and duties of the Navy, Marechaussee and Coast Guard.
On St Maarten, Governor Eugene Holiday and Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams expressed their appreciation for the decision to post marine detachments on the island. Hillen emphasised that this would also significantly shorten response times for the provision of assistance to St Eustatius and Saba. The first 6 marines will be posted next year. The entire unit of 26 marines is scheduled to become operational in the course of 2014.
The minister praised the work of station ship HNLMS Tromp and the coastguard in fighting drugs-related crime and people smuggling. “While the pirates who were apprehended by the Tromp near Somalia are still being tried in the Netherlands, the ship is already carrying out its next mission in the Caribbean. In doing so, it is the living proof that the armed forces defend our interests and protect our freedom, security and prosperity. Also in this part of our Kingdom.”