WEDNESDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2013
POINTE BLANCHE–The building that is to serve as a base for the Royal Dutch Marines detachment was opened officially on Tuesday.
The temporary building, which is located on the property of the Harbour, serves as the headquarters for the six Royal Marines and Navy personnel who currently are serving on the island.
However, a rotational detachment of 20 Marines will be coming to the island. This rotational detachment will consist of one Raiding Section of the Maritime Expeditionary Combat Group Raiding Section comprising 16 marines and four boat pilots.
The boat pilots will be responsible for piloting the two Fast Raiding Interception Security Craft (FRISCs) that can travel from St. Maarten to Saba or Statia within an hour and achieve speeds of 45-50 knots. The detachment, along with its equipment, is a shared facility between the three islands.
After the ceremonial hoisting of the Dutch flag, commander of the Royal Netherlands Marines detachment for St. Maarten Major Patrick Wokke said in his welcoming speech that the opening of the new building was an important milestone in the process of deploying the new detachment to the island. He is looking forward to successful cooperation with partner agencies such as the Coast Guard, the police, the Fire Department and the Volunteer Corps of St. Maarten VKS.
He thanked amongst others the Prime Minister, who was present at the opening, for making it possible for the Dutch Royal Marines to be present on the island, as well as Richard van der Mark of the Harbour Group of Companies for the great communications and for honouring all commitments made.
Governor Eugene Holiday officially opened the new building by ceremonially pushing open the door. In his speech he called the opening day “a special day in the development of St. Maarten,” and acknowledged the presence of the prime minister and Deputy Commander Caribbean Forces Colonel van Zanten. The Governor also officially named the new building “Marine Base Pointe Blanche”.
Holiday said that as a new country St. Maarten should have a fixed military presence. He mentioned the three pillars of support the Royal Netherlands Marines have to offer: their invaluable presence for emergency assistance in disasters, particularly hurricanes; the feeling of safety and security that comes from their presence; and their potential role in developing the youth and the future of St. Maarten, particularly in assisting with the Social Formation Programme.
After the official opening there was an opportunity for guests to see inside the building for the first time and to raise a glass to a successful future for the Royal Netherlands Marines detachment and its partners in St. Maarten.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten