The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea
Ministry of Defence
Valérie Verkeyn, commanding pilot with 40 Heli Squadron, Koksijde base:
"We have three Caiman helicopters, type NH90 NFH and a fourth is expected in 2016. These are used to carry out SAR (Search and Rescue) operations and in the future also for MAR operations (navy). There are 5 crew members on board: 2 pilots, a cabin operator, a medic and a SAR diver. A Senso (sensor operator) will join the crew for MAR operations. The Caiman helicopter can fly at a velocity of 300 km/h even in the most difficult weather conditions. We are standby 24/7 and are ready to take off within 15 minutes. Our device stays the same: "aude audenda", dare what needs to be dared.“
With helicopters, ready duty ships and divers at its disposal, the Ministry of Defence is able to offer assistance in case an emergency unfolds on the North Sea.
The Ministry of Defence carries out inspections on Belgian and foreign fishing vessels in Belgium’s Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ, in cooperation with the Sea Fisheries Service.
In case of pollution on the North Sea or to destroy mines and other explosives, the Ministry of Defence is often called upon. The Radio Maritime Services provide information to shipping traffic and keep guard on the emergency channels. There is also a unit of the ministry of Defence (Navy) working in the Maritime Security Centre Belgium (MIK) in Zeebrugge.
Off the coast of Lombardsijde, part of the North Sea is preserved to hold regular shooting exercises. The Belgian Navy contributes to combating piracy by taking part in international surveillance operations.