Navy ships head for the Bahamas to provide disaster relief after hurricane Dorian
The Netherlands will provide the Bahamas with disaster relief following the widespread havoc wreaked by hurricane Dorian. The naval vessels HNLMS Johan de Witt and HNLMS Snellius are making logistical preparations on Sint Maarten in order to help the archipelago. The ships were already in the Caribbean for the major disaster relief exercise Caribbean Coast.
The Bahamas requested assistance through the regional disaster-response organisation CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency). The ships are expected to leave within a few days and should be at the scene by 11 September. The exact details of the disaster relief are currently being worked out by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence in consultation with the CDEMA. The disaster relief is financed from funds made available by the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag.
Port, airfield and depot
HNLMS Johan de Witt is an amphibious transport ship. The ship is a port, airfield and depot rolled into one. It has a large deck for vehicles and relief supplies, army medical personnel, and an internal dock where boats can sail in and out. Also on board are 2 Cougar transport helicopters from Defence Helicopter Command, as well as a unit of marines with 2 FRISC boats and 4 landing craft, military engineers, an army unit specialised in civil-military operations, and 2 teams of specialist divers.
Charting the seabed
HNLMS Snellius is a hydrographic survey vessel. The ship carries advanced sonar equipment that can be used to chart the seabed in order to draw up sea charts and maps of coastal areas.
Significant damage and numerous victims
Hurricane Dorian has had a devastating effect on the Bahamas. The category 5 hurricane has claimed many casualties, and the Red Cross estimates that approximately 13 thousand homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Initial estimates by the United Nations’ World Food Programme suggest that 76,000 people are in need of aid. Large parts of the island have flooded and the situation is very detrimental to the local infrastructure. The population urgently requires assistance. The presence of several of its naval vessels in the Caribbean means that the Netherlands is well positioned to offer disaster relief.