Dutch naval ships set sail for the largest NATO exercise ever | News item

News item | 02-19-2024 | 15:18

The naval ships Zr.Ms. Johan de Witt and Zr.Ms. Karel Doorman left for northern Norway today. They participate in Steadfast Defender. This is the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War. In the coming months, 5,000 Dutch soldiers will take part.

Both naval ships participate in Nordic Response, part of Steadfast Defender, which takes place both on land and at sea. In total, approximately 800 Dutch soldiers are involved.

They practice, among other things, amphibious operations. Marine Corps units are brought ashore by the transport ship Zr.Ms. Johan de Witt. The ship Zr.Ms. Karel Doorman provides logistical support.

Attack on NATO member state

Steadfast Defender 2024 consists of several of these types of partial exercises. All 31 NATO countries and Sweden are participating, a total of 90,000 soldiers. They train the possible responses in the event of an attack on one of the NATO member states.

Steadfast Defender lasts from February to May and covers thousands of kilometers, from the Arctic to the eastern flank of the NATO treaty area. Military personnel with knowledge of all domains work together: maritime, land, air, space and cyber.

75th anniversary

In addition to the two navy ships, approximately 4,500 army soldiers from, among others, three Dutch combat brigades will also participate from April. They are active in Germany, Poland and Lithuania. The rapid movement of large army units is practiced there.

A unit of the air mobile brigade will take part in a major exercise in Hungary and Romania in May.

Steadfast Defender takes place at a special time. On April 4, NATO will celebrate its 75th anniversary.