Dutch contribution to Strait of Hormuz mission
The Netherlands is contributing the air defence and command frigate HNLMS De Ruyter to a European mission in the Strait of Hormuz. There are over 200 military personnel on board. They will remain in the area until June 2020.
The Netherlands is helping to map out the maritime security situation in the sea area, which means monitoring, identifying and recording shipping traffic. This is done by the naked eye and by means of advanced sensors on board the frigate and the frigate’s helicopter.
The Strait of Hormuz is of great economic importance, also to the Netherlands. It is the only route that ships can use to transport oil from the Gulf region to the rest of the world.
The mission’s official name is European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH). Within this French-led mission, the Dutch frigate operates in concert with a French frigate and patrol aircraft. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy and Portugal are also supporting the mission.
Military and diplomatic de-escalation
The European mission’s purpose is to prevent incidents at sea. Serious incidents occurred in the region last year. Six oil tankers were heavily damaged and 2 were seized. De-escalatory efforts should remove regional tensions.
In addition to the military presence, the mission includes diplomatic initiatives to enable stakeholders in the region to hold discussions and cooperate. All of these efforts are being undertaken to guarantee security in the region and thereby support Dutch economic interests.
Headquarters in Abu Dhabi
The mission is managed from headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. Four Dutch staff officers also work in this French-led headquarters in Abu Dhabi. They are involved in operations, intelligence and logistics, and also provide legal advice.
Over 200 military personnel
HNLMS De Ruyter is an air defence and command frigate with over 200 military personnel on board. Although this military presence should deter those with malevolent intentions, the frigate has capabilities to deal with any threat. It carries an NH90 maritime combat helicopter and uses a very advanced SMART-L radar. Armaments consist of a 127 mm cannon, a rapid-fire gun, torpedoes, anti-missile and anti-aircraft guided weapons, and anti-ship missiles.
“A mission that suits us as the Netherlands”
Why the Netherlands is participating
Commander Theo Klootwijk is the commanding officer of HNLMS De Ruyter. In his view, deploying the ship and its crew to the region was a logical step on the part of the Netherlands. “It’s a mission that suits us as the Netherlands. Free trade and access to international waters are things that we’ve always considered important as a country. It’s about the international rule of law and we also want to be seen as a reliable ally, one that contributes when necessary.”
When military action may be taken
The purpose of the military and diplomatic efforts is to de-escalate. The presence of navy ships should have a deterrent effect, so military personnel will not necessarily have to take action. Action will only be taken in self-defence or if a ship is attacked. Military personnel may also take action if a ship is boarded by non-state actors. If a state actor boards a ship, a diplomatic solution will first be sought.