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The success of sustainability efforts in the Caribbean Netherlands is largely dependent on the initiatives and dedication of the local people, but they are not alone. Far from it, because the central Dutch government has to give the right example by stimulating relevant projects and developments where possible, and by leading the way in terms of its own operations. That’s why the recently announced major overhaul of all of the nation-wide barracks kitchens operated by the Ministry of Defense for the various armed forces of the Netherlands has attracted our attention, especially as the Dutch Caribbean region is home to no less than four Dutch Navy facilities.
Permanent Dutch Navy presence in the Caribbean
As part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Caribbean Netherlands form part of the Dutch territory and therefore fall under the protection of the Dutch armed forces. To make this possible, the Ministry of Defense operates four major facilities in the region. Marinebasis Parera (Navy Base Perera), located centrally on the island of Curaçao, forms the headquarters and hosts the staff of current Navy Commander in the Caribbean (Commandant der Zeemacht in het Caribisch Gebied, or CZMCARIB), the ranking Dutch Navy officer in the region. Curaçao also boasts the Marinekazerne Suffisant (Navy Barracks Suffisant), where armed forces are trained and Vrijwilligers Korps Curaçao (Curaçao Volunteer Corps, or VKC) are hosted. The other Dutch Navy Barracks can be found in Aruba, at Marinierskazerne Savaneta, which hosts both the 32nd raid squadron and the Arubaanse Militie (Aruban Militia, or ARUMIL). The fourth Dutch Navy facility in the region is the Navy Detachment St. Maarten (Mariniersdetachement Sint Maarten), from where the first wave of military support is to be provided when needed to Sint Maarten, Saba and Statia.
What’s going to happen?
The coming overhaul is focused on renovating and improving the existing kitchen facilities at the different armed forces barracks spread throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Starting with the Generaal Spoorkazerne (in the town of Ermelo in the European Netherlands), the Beatrixkazerne (in The Hague), het Kantorencomplex Maasland, and the military storage and maintenance complex in Eygelshoven, the goal is to make the kitchen facilities more easily adaptable to rapidly changing circumstances and to do so in a sustainable manner. This approach will also be used for the barracks kitchens in the Caribbean Dutch region.
In practice, this comes down to a combination of construction and renovation, depending on the specific characteristics and state of each facility. Modular construction will be a focus for each project, which is aimed at making the kitchen facilities much easier to adjust to new developments. In terms of sustainability, the aim is to replace as much older equipment as possible with newer and more energy efficient devices, such as smart cooling systems and electric equipment that can run on sustainably generated power. LED lights will also be integrated where possibly to reduce energy consumption.
Considering the sustainability ambitions of the islands in the Caribbean Netherlands, the announced plans are expected to result in a major overhaul for the military facilities in the region. While details are still to be revealed and the Ministry of Defense wants to, first of all, see how the works progress at the previously mentioned four locations in the European Netherlands, it would be no surprise to see the Dutch Navy facilities in Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten make enormous steps in terms of sustainable developments and practices in the near future.
The basis for this article was originally published on www.defensie.nl and others in January 2023.