Dutch Navy NH90 maritime attack helicopter crashes off the north west coast of Aruba, killing 2.
Aruba- On July 19th in the afternoon at approximately 2:30 PM local time a Dutch Navy NH90
maritime attack helicopter was returning to HNLMS Groningen from a patrol off the north west coast of Aruba when it crashed into the ocean tragically killing 34-year-old pilot Christine Martens and her tactical coordinator 33-year-old Erwin Warnies.
At the time Netherlands Prime minister Mark Rutte said on social media that he is ‘deeply troubled’ and in an early morning press conference Armed Forces commander Rob Bauer said that the accident was a ‘severe shock’ but that the two other passengers in the crash were not seriously injured.
The Dutch Navy & Coast Guard are currently balancing two priorities in the Caribbean, patrolling for narco traffickers and securing the borders against irregular immigration / human smuggling that poses a significant risk to their security amid an increased potential to spread the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the crash HNLMS Groningen and Coast Guard Cutter Panter began searching about 20 nautical miles off the north tip of Aruba and continued along a path running west for about 40 nautical miles. After it was located 2 of the floats designed to keep the aircraft from sinking failed and the remaining 2 were insufficient to handle the job.
In the afternoon of July 21st the HNLMS Groningen along with the bodies of the fallen soldiers arrived in Willemstad Curaçao. The blackbox from the helicopter was recovered along with the bodies, but the remainder of the wreckage had proved more difficult to salvage. The Armed Forces have guaranteed there will be a full and complete investigation of the crash.
On July 4th twitter user @StrataNL shared images that show the Dutch owner Fugro Equator survey ship operating in the same area as the crash occurred. This vessel followed a search pattern grid over the area where the helicopter sank until they were able to locate it about 300 meters below the surface. After conducting the search the vessel sits in one place while they raise the wreckage. I hope that the investigation will yield results that will give the families of those lost some closure.