Johan de Witt pays unique visit to St. Maarten

POSTED: 09/3/11 12:09 AM

St. Maarten – Next week Friday the navy transport vessel Johan de Witt will arrive at fort Amsterdam at a quarter past eight. Brigadier General Swijgman, the flag officer for the Dutch forces in the Caribbean and governor drs. Eugene Holiday will be present to welcome the vessel to St. Maarten with an honor salute.
The Johan de Witt is an impressive ship, based on the design of the Rotterdam, though it is longer and wider. The Dutch government decided to buy a second transport vessel back in the year 2000. The Johan de Witt is able to coordinate amphibious actions on brigade-level, and landing-actions on division-level. To execute these tasks it has been equipped with additional communication equipment and space for accommodating 402 staff members.
The Johan de Witt has a helicopter deck suited for heavy Chinook helicopters.
While the government gave the order for the construction of the Johan de Witt to the De Schelde wharf in Vlissingen, the company had its daughter company Galatz built the hull at its wharf in Romania. The decision to have this part of the job done outside of the Netherlands was taken to cut costs.
The vessel has a Thales Variant radar with helicopter detection capability and a gatekeeper system for detecting small targets in coastal areas and ports.
The Johan de Witt has a core crew of 120 and capacity to carry 600 marines of 402 staff members. There are 739 beds aboard the vessel.
The Johan de Witt has limited armaments: two goalkeeper systems and ten 12.7 mm machine guns. These weapons are designed for protection, not for engaging in battle. In precarious situations, the vessel depends for its protection on accompanying frigates. The ship also has storage for torpedoes for frigates and for its own helicopters. The hangar is large enough to accommodate four Chinook helicopters or six smaller helis.
The Johan de Witt was baptized on May 13, 2006 in Vlissingen and it made its first test journey on September 29 of that year. In September 2007 it was handed over to the Royal navy and in 2008 it became operational.
In April 2010 the De Witt left for the Gulf of Aden to take part in the European mission Atalanta. It returned to its base in Den Helder in July of last year. Since June of this year the De Witt is the Kingdom’s station ship in the Caribbean. Based in Curacao, it takes part in the fight against drugs and human trafficking, and it also offers the islands assistance during extreme bad weather.
The Johan de Witt’s visit to St. Maarten is a unique event, because towards the end of the year the vessel will return to its home port Den Helder in the Netherlands..

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