The Dutch contribution to the Gulf war
The Dutch government successively supplied maritime assets, a medical team and Patriot launchers.
In August 1990, 2 frigates left for the Persian Gulf, namely the standard frigate HNLMS Pieter Florisz and the air defence frigate HNLMS Witte de With, under the auspices of the Western European Union. On board the Pieter Florisz were 2 Lynx helicopters with .50 anti-speedboat machine guns, and both frigates were equipped with the SGE-30 Goalkeeper rapid-fire gun to protect against incoming missiles.
Area of operations
Initially, the Dutch ships only monitored observance of the UN trade embargo in the Strait of Hormuz, but on 8 October 1990, the Dutch Minister of Defence, A.L. ter Beek, authorised the Dutch ships to move to the Persian Gulf itself, or at least to latitude 27°30. Not until 31 January 1991 did Ter Beek designate the whole of the Persian Gulf as the area of operations.
On the evening of 5 December, both frigates were relieved by the standard frigate HNLMS Philips van Almonde, the air defence frigate HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck and the supply ship HNLMS Zuiderkruis. The Dutch frigates provided protection for US aircraft carriers and battleships in the Gulf.
The Zuiderkruis was assigned to the supply pool in the central part of the Gulf. The ships left the Persian Gulf on 29 March 1991 and on 4 April passed the baton to 3 minehunters which the Dutch government had decided to deploy at the beginning of March, again as part of the WEU operation. These were HNLMS Harlingen, HNLMS Haarlem and HNLMS Zierikzee. The 3 ships were deployed for mine clearance off the coast of Kuwait. The Harlingen and Haarlem began their homeward voyage in a WEU group on 13 June. The crew of the Zierikzee was relieved around the same time and the ship, under the command of Lieutenant Commander A.D. Sepp, stayed in the Gulf until the end of June.
A Royal NL Navy mobile field hospital staffed by 53 military personnel set off for Jebel Ali on 11 January 1991. It provided role 2 medical support (in other words, extensive surgical capacity) for the ships' crews. Two P-3C Orion patrol aircraft were kept in reserve at their home base of Valkenburg to evacuate wounded personnel to the Netherlands. The hospital was incorporated in the British medical evacuation chain. The field hospital returned to the Netherlands in the second half of March.
At the request of the UK and because of the forthcoming ground offensive, an extensive Royal Netherlands Army medical team arrived in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of February. This team, consisting of 31 military personnel, was assigned to a Swedish field hospital near the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. Wounded allied personnel were not treated by the Dutch medical team, but the team did treat some 180 Iraqi military personnel. The team returned to the Netherlands on 3 April.
Protection of Turkey
Turkey asked the Dutch government at the beginning of January 1991 for an air defence unit to protect against possible Iraqi attacks with Scud medium-range missiles. The Dutch government agreed to do so and sent 10 Patriot launchers (2 squadrons), manned by 177 men, to Diyarbakir air base in eastern Turkey. 2 HAWK squadrons joined the Patriot squadrons in February. The HAWK (Homing All the Way Killer) is a guided weapon system that is designed to engage air targets at lower altitude and which complemented the Patriot in critical zones.
The Dutch government had already offered Israel a Patriot squadron on 18 January 1991 to avert the threat of the Iraqi Scuds. Israel did not wish to avail itself of this offer at first, but had a change of mind in mid-February. 8 Patriot launchers and accompanying personnel arrived in Israel at the end of February and returned to the Netherlands on 28 March. The squadrons stationed in Turkey also returned home at the end of March.