Royal Netherlands Navy looks to mitigate operational risks of COVID-19 pandemic​

The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) has informed recently deployed vessels to keep no more than 24 hours transit time from the nearest hospital for the first week at sea, in the event that personnel should fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to deployment, which is intended to dispose of historical ordnance in the North Sea, crews underwent a seven-day quarantine period which ensured that 93% of those that might display symptoms were effectively identified. This, combined with the first week of deployment, encompasses the two-week period that COVID-19 symptoms generally become noticeable.

The development was detailed on 26 May during a UDT 2020 webinar on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on military services and the defence industry.

In addition, an RNLN vessel that deployed to the Caribbean recently was ordered to maintain a close proximity to a UK vessel when in transit across the Atlantic. The HNLMS Karel Doorman is currently on station in the Caribbean, while the UK has deployed the RN OPV HMS Medway and RFA Argus, with the latter designated a Primary Casualty Receiving Ship.

A spokesperson for the Netherlands MoD said on 28 May that each deployment is reviewed separately before any risk-reducing measures are imposed.

'In those specific cases where we can’t guarantee that a crew is COVID-19 free, the time and distance to an intensive care facility is an important element of the equation. That facility does not necessarily have to be Dutch,' the spokesperson said.

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