The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean
The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are independent territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This means that they handle their own affairs, with the exception of foreign affairs and defence. The latter task is the responsibility of the Netherlands armed forces.
Stationed over eight thousand kilometres from the Netherlands, over five hundred navy personnel – fleet personnel and marines – safeguard the security of the territories of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint Martin, Sint Eustatius and Saba.
Defence of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba from external threats is one of the tasks of the Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean.
The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean plays an important role in upholding the international rule of law. Given the geographical location of the islands, this particularly involves fighting international drug trafficking by sea. The Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean therefore works in close coordination with the international drug-fighting organisation Joint Interagency Task Force South, located in Key West, Florida. The Flag Officer Caribbean consequently holds command of one of the task groups of this organisation, Task Group 4.4.
In addition, the Flag Officer Caribbean is responsible for the possible deployment of military units in order to maintain public order, if necessary.
The Flag Officer Caribbean is also is the Commander of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba Coast Guard. This is a civilian organisation which is responsible for policing the territorial waters surrounding the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, in close cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Navy.
The 2 organisations work side by side in counter-drug operations, Search-and-Rescue operations, and maintaining the rule of law, such as countering illegal fishing activities and violations of environmental law.