St. Maarten Governor opens headquarters Marine Corps detachment

POSTED: 11/20/13 6:22 PM

“Military presence creates a sense of safety and security”

St. Maarten – Navy corporal Mariska Schippers and sergeant-major of the Royal Dutch Navy Martin Mulder hoisted the Dutch flag yesterday afternoon in front of the headquarters of the Marine Corps detachment in the cargo terminal of the harbor in Pointe Blanche. It was the prelude to the official opening of the facility by Governor Drs. Eugene Holiday in the presence of amongst others of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, the commander of the navy in the Caribbean colonel Wilko Van Zanten and major of the marines Patrick Wokke. The latter is the commander of the marine detachment in St. Maarten.

Currently, the detachment consists apart from the commander, sergeant-major Mulder and corporal Mariska Schipper of corporal of the marines Martin Hoogendam and sergeant of the Royal Dutch Navy Siarda. Gravestein. Now that three headquarters are ready for business, the detachment awaits the arrival of twenty marines that will be stationed here on a rotational basis. “From now on there will be a permanent presence of the marines in St. Maarten,” Commander Major Patrick Wokke said. “We are here to support our partners – the Coast Guard, the police, the VKS – wherever necessary.”
Major Wokke said that he is proud of the new building that is at his disposal. The facility is a prefab product of Precamp South America NV, a company from Suriname. The major proudly referred to the marine’s slogan Qua Patet Orbis (As far as the world extends) that indicates that the marines can be at any location in the world within 48 hours.

Major Wokke said that, with the arrival of twenty operational marines, “an interesting training program” would begin. “You will see us quite often in the future,” he said.

The major praised the cooperation with Richard van der Mark of the Harbor Group of Companies during the process to establish the marine headquarters.

Governor Holiday said that the opening of the facility marks “a special and historic day for St. Maarten.” He noted that shortly after he was appointed as governor he said that St. Maarten ought to have a permanent military presence. During his first visit to the Netherlands, at the end of September 2010, the governor brought up the issue.

“It was not an easy case to make,” he said. “I discussed it with the Defense Minister at the time, Hans Hillen, with admiral Borsboom and with General Swijgman. In those discussions the foundation was laid for where we are today.”

The governor said that the marine presence in St. Maarten rests on three pillars. “The first one is the important role marines play in the event of a hurricane – not only for St. Maarten but also for Saba and Statia. Their emergency assistance is invaluable. We only need to refer to hurricanes Luis and Lenny to make this point. Secondly a military presence creates a sense of safety and security on the island. That is important for the population. And thirdly, there is the potential role for our youth.”

Governor Holiday then went up the stairs where the entry door to the building was closed off with a blue material with a red banner across its center. With a firm push of his shoulder, that gave some the impression that the governor would literally fall into the building, but he managed to keep his balance.

Upstairs then invited guests were received with refreshments and the opportunity to have a look around in the facility.


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