Den Helder, Netherlands

The energy transition and the consequences for the Netherlands Coast Guard

Den Helder Airport (DHA) and the Netherlands Coast Guard: two different organizations, but with plenty of similarities. For example, at DHA one of our coast guard helicopters is on standby 24/7 to carry out search and rescue operations. And the energy transition affects the Netherlands Offshore Aviation Mainport, but also has consequences for the Coast Guard.

A complete Coast Guard helicopter crew is permanently present at DHA, in order to be able to leave as quickly as possible in the event of an alert by the Coast Guard. They also practice regularly. A departure of the helicopter does not always mean deployment. Because it is important that the crews remain trained, both with their own crew and with, for example, the KNRM lifeboats.

And then a look at the energy transition and the Coast Guard. In the coming years, the government will have more and larger wind farms built in the North Sea. This means an increasing crowd on the North Sea and an increasing importance of the North Sea. This changes the safety risks. This has a direct effect on the Coast Guard's mission: ensuring safe and responsible use of the North Sea.

As a safety authority in the North Sea, the Coast Guard has three main tasks: service provision, enforcement and maritime security. The energy transition affects all these task areas. Building and maintaining wind farms far from the coast means more work and ship or aircraft movements in the North Sea and less room for maneuver for shipping. Even though we take measures to ensure shipping safety, such as the permanent presence of emergency tugs, this increases the risk of (major) incidents.

Secondly, the increasing crowds make enforcement more complex. To this end, the enforcement side of the Coast Guard must be strengthened with additional enforcement vessels for surveillance and to carry out more checks in the North Sea.

And finally, an action plan must be drawn up from our contracting ministries to better protect the existing and future infrastructure in the North Sea against threats from both state and non-state actors. What happened in the Baltic Sea with the Nord Stream pipeline could also happen in the North Sea. This aspect requires further elaboration and may result in an expansion of tasks for the Coast Guard.

In short, the energy transition has the Coast Guard's full attention. From Den Helder, the strategic heart of the Netherlands, we continue to work together with Den Helder Airport as a partner for the safe and responsible use of the North Sea!

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