Defense helicopter crashes near Aruba, two soldiers killed

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A Defense NH90 helicopter crashed near Aruba on Sunday. Two soldiers, 34-year-old pilot Christine Martens and 33-year-old tactical coordinator Erwin Warnies, were killed in the accident, Commander of the Armed Forces Rob Bauer confirmed on Monday. The cause of the crash is not yet clear.

The helicopter was doing a Coast Guard patrol and was on route to Curacao when it crashed. Four people were on board. The two survivors sustained “no serious injury”, Bauer said. Attempts were made to resuscitate the two soldiers, but it was to no avail. Their relatives have been informed and Defense wishes them a lot of strength in this time, Bauer said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld expressed their condolences. “I think that everyone is shocked at Defense, in the Netherlands. We sympathize with family and loved ones. Truly terrible news,” Rutte said to RTL Nieuws. He also published a statement on Twitter, saying that he is “deeply moved by the sad news” of the crash that took the lives of two soldiers.

“My thoughts go out to their families and friends. I wish them lots of strength in this sad time.”

“Today I received the terrible news that two of our soldiers have died. My condolences to their family. We are all deeply affected,” Bijleveld said on Twitter. The Defense Ministry also opened a public online condolence registry for anyone wanting to write a message about the deaths of Martens and Warnies.

A Coast Guard helicopter and a team of divers will help to salvage the crashed aircraft, giving priority to retrieving the black box. The helicopter was stationed on the Zr.MS Groningen, currently in Curacao. Source:

About the Royal Netherlands Navy in the Caribbean

The Royal Netherlands Navy contributes to security in all parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, including the Dutch territories in the Caribbean. Commander Netherlands Forces in the Caribbean (COMNLCARIB) is responsible for the activities of Dutch naval units in the area. There are 2 Dutch naval bases on Curaçao and one on Aruba. Dutch military personnel in the Caribbean intercept drug transports and combat illegal fishing and environmental crime, among other things. They also lend support during search-and-rescue operations and provide disaster relief in the event of hurricanes and other natural disasters or serious incidents. Two Dutch naval bases, Parera and Suffisant, are located on the island of Curaçao. The latter has facilities for conscription in the Caribbean, which is not military conscription but social conscription. This type of conscription offers underprivileged Antillean young people the chance of taking professional training. The Savaneta Marine Barracks on Aruba accommodates 32 Infantry Company of the Marine Corps. The marines regularly train on the island, but also in other areas in the vicinity of the island. There are, for example, exercise areas on the Windward and Leeward Islands, the French islands in the Caribbean, French Guyana, Suriname and the United States. An Aruban militia platoon is responsible for surveillance and security at the barracks. Source: