Published On: Wed, Apr 29th, 2020

Strengthening of police force and law enforcement in St. Maarten

PHILIPSBURG – 48 Marines who boarded the naval vessel Zr.Ms. Karel Doorman came to St. Maarten, as of today they will be deployed in guarding borders and maintaining public order in St. Maarten. “The Marines have all been tested negative for the corona virus. They have completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine,” says Canan Babayigit, Defense spokesperson for the Caribbean.

The eleven-day journey from Den Helder to St. Maarten was regarded as quarantine. After arriving in St. Maarten, the Marines had to remain in quarantine for three days to complete the fortnight. “The mission is well prepared medically,” says Babayigit. “We wanted to prevent the coronavirus from traveling with the ship to St. Maarten.”

After the arrival of the Zr.Ms. Karel Doorman in Port St. Maarten, no one was allowed on the ship and activities around the ship and on the quay were kept to a minimum. Babayigit: “Because none of the crew has any symptoms of illness, it is important to prevent a member of the ship’s crew from becoming ill. If this were to happen, the entire ship would be contaminated and no longer be able to operate.”

The Divi Resort in Little Bay will be the home of the Marines for the next three months. The new batch has joined a dozen marines who came to the island in February this year. Next to the St. Maarten Medical Center they built a field hospital for the treatment and care of corona patients. In recent weeks, these marines have also carried out traffic checks at the request of the government, together with the St. Maarten Police Corps. On several days Cole Bay Hill was a random checkpoint.

The permanent marine detachment on St Maarten drives around in sand-colored anaconda vehicles. Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) received 46 anacondas for deployment in the former Netherlands Antilles. These robust off-road vehicles replaced the green Mercedes Benz type 280 (MB280) in the first half of 2019. The marines who came with the Karel Doorman drive around in the green MB280.

Last Monday, a military aircraft with essential military personnel and goods arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport. Twenty Marechaussees, among others, got out. Babayigit: “They will remain in quarantine on St. Maarten for a few more days before supporting the St. Maarten Police Force in border control and maintaining public order and security.”

The Marines and Marechaussee (Kmar) are on the island at the request of the government of St. Maarten. Their tasks are described in a request for assistance to the government of the Netherlands. “Defense is only executive,” says Babayigit. “We are very open about our role and mandate on the islands to make it clear to everyone that we are active here at the request of the islands. The Marines and Marechaussee officers do nothing without prior instruction, they perform tasks on behalf of the local authorities.” For the time being, the men are not being deployed to guard the Pointe Blanche prison. “We were not commissioned to do that,” says Babayigit.

The Zr.Ms. Karel Doorman left Monday from St. Maarten for Aruba, where the ship will arrive on Wednesday to deliver personnel and equipment. Then it will continue to Curaçao and will also deliver equipment there. Defense will deploy the Karel Doorman over the next three months to support the civil authorities in the corona crisis when the situation calls for it.

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Photo captions: Photos of police and military vehicles provided by Fly4Usxm. Photo of military aircraft at SXM Airport taken from social media.