The tasks of the Royal Netherlands Navy fall into 3 principal categories: security at sea, security delivered from the sea and national maritime tasks.
Summary of tasks:
- Protection of our national territory and that of our allies;
- Protection of the territory of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba;
- Maintaining the freedom of the seas;
- Protection and support of Dutch interests, anywhere in the world;
- Upholding the international rule of law and protecting human rights;
- Providing support to civil authorities regarding law enforcement, disaster relief and humanitarian aid, both at home and abroad.
Security at sea is essential in order to protect shipping routes and choke-points, both for civilian purposes (such as trade and energy transport) and for military objectives (such as initiating and supporting land operations and carrying out operations at sea). For example, the Navy’s ships could be called upon to carry out patrols and boarding and blockade operations to combat terrorism and prevent gun running and human trafficking.
The Navy also carries out operations against drug trafficking and piracy. Submarines provide security and gather intelligence in sea areas throughout the world. On the other hand, the Navy is also regularly deployed closer to home to clear mines, for Search-and-Rescue missions and to patrol coastal waters.
Units of the Royal Netherlands Navy can be deployed from the sea in support of operations on land. Amongst other things, this support could involve supplying ammunition, food and water, providing medical and humanitarian assistance, gathering and supplying intelligence and providing fire support by means of naval guns or missiles.
Using its specialised ships, the Royal Netherlands Navy is capable of setting up a base at sea. From such sea bases, Dutch and Allied Marines, Army and Air Force units can be deployed in support of land operations. The base can also act as a centre for operational command and control. A sea base of this type is entirely self-sufficient, with its own medical facilities, helicopters, landing craft and technical support.
This makes it possible to deploy personnel and materiel for maintaining peace and safety in areas of conflict such as Ethiopia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Personnel and materiel can also be deployed for humanitarian assistance operations, such as after the floods and hurricanes in the southern United States and in Nicaragua.
These are tasks that are of vital national and public importance, such as Coastguard and Search-and-Rescue missions, combating terrorism, clearing unexploded mines and bombs, providing diver assistance and medical assistance to divers and carrying out hydrographical surveys for making navigational charts. The Navy also supports the civil authorities; for example, in dealing with natural disasters such as floods.
Further from home, the Royal Netherlands Navy provides protection for the territories and territorial waters of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Naval vessels and Marine units are permanently stationed in the Caribbean in order to perform these tasks.