Dutch and British marines together form an amphibious force. This is called the United Kingdom/Netherlands Amphibious Force (UK/NL AF). This year the force celebrates its 50th anniversary. During the anniversary, the Marines emphasize their cooperation and shared history. But they also look to the future.
The cooperation started 50 years ago today, on May 9, 1973. Then the treaty was signed establishing the UK/NL AF. Both countries received shared equipment and a common goal. Since then, the Royal Netherlands Navy and the British Royal Navy regularly train and work together. The Marines conduct amphibious operations and use fast landing craft and helicopters. They carry out heavy training in the Scottish highlands and in Norway. There the Marines learn to move around on skis. They are also taught to survive in inhospitable areas at extremely low temperatures.
Since 1998, the amphibious transport ship Rotterdam is part of the UK/NL AF. This ship has a submersible dock and a helicopter deck.
In addition, it has facilities for more than 600 Marines with equipment and armaments. They can be deployed in mountainous regions, possibly under arctic conditions. Deployment is possible worldwide. The Dutch part of UK/NL AF consists of approximately 1,000 men.
Amphibious operations are becoming increasingly complex. The British and Dutch marines have developed continuously over the past 50 years. Even now they continue to modernize. Both the Marine Corps and Royal Marine Commandos are embracing new technology and tactics. With a coordinated way of working, they can deal with modern threats.
The strong relationship between both navies is now more important than ever. An example of this is the cooperation between the Royal Navy and a team from the Marine Corps during the evacuation in Sudan.
Fleet and Marines jointly developed the Future Littoral Operating Concept . This document describes the future actions of the armed forces in coastal areas. It says that they will work with more and smaller units. As a result, they can be more widespread. The navies want to position themselves as the ‘ first responder of choice ‘. This means that they are the first to act when there is danger. These future plans bring both navies even closer together.
The 50th anniversary of the UK-NL AF is an opportunity to highlight the rich history between the 2 collaborating countries. But also to look to the future, to confirm the cooperation and to show the latest developments.