HNLMS Evertsen to join UK taskgroup to Japan
The Air Defense and Command Frigate HNLMS Evertsen will pay a port visit to Japan with the UK taskgroup, a spokesman for the navy said this morning after questions from Marineschepen.nl/ Naviesworldwide.com. Both the Dutch and British navy do not want to formally confirm whether they will sail through the South China Sea, but different route is very unlikely.
HNLMS Evertsen, filephoto. (Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence)
In 2018, then UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a Dutch warship is going to deploy alongside the 2021 HMS Queen Elizabeth taskgroup. One year earlier, at the time, Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson had made public that the Royal Navy taskgroup would sail through the South China Sea.
Although the Royal Netherlands Navy didn’t comment on the South China Sea plans of the UK taskgroup, it was expected that the Dutch ship would follow HMS Queen Elizabeth through the contested waters. However, in September 2020, a Dutch navy spokesman said that ‘The Hague’ preferred a port visit in Indonesia, instead of a transit through the South-China Sea.
Today, after Naviesworldwide.com asked questions about the deployment, the Royal Netherlands Navy confirmed the plans to join the UK taskgroup to Japan. Although the spokesman did not confirm that the ships will sail through the South China Sea, he added that the taskgroup will act according to the Law of the Sea. Freedom of navigation is disputed in the South-China Sea.
A route from the Indian Ocean to Japan, other than through the South China Sea, could been seen as an approval to China’s claims in the South China Sea. Naviesworldwide.com expects that HNLMS Evertsen will sail through the South China Sea alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth and its UK and US escorts.