Mine clearance operation ‘Beneficial Cooperation’
The Royal Netherlands Navy collaborates with the Belgian Navy in keeping the sea, coastal waters, ports and maritime approaches free of mines and explosives. This is an important task. As a large number of explosives dating from the First and Second World Wars are still found on a regular basis off the coasts of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Dutch-Belgian naval cooperation is called ‘Beneficial Cooperation’.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of mines and bombs are still scattered across the seabed of the North Sea. In August 2013, the Royal Netherlands Navy disarmed its one thousandth explosive since 2005, the year when cooperation with Belgium in this area was intensified. The reason for this intensification of mine clearance was the deaths of 3 fishermen in April 2005, after a Second World War aircraft bomb that they had hauled on to their boat exploded.
Fishing vessels and other vessels still find mines and explosives in the North Sea on a weekly basis. Explosives brought to the surface are marked and reported to the Coast Guard. A minehunter is then called in to disarm the explosives.