Dutch Defense Gains Prominent Role in Securing North Sea Infrastructure

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Dutch government has decided to assign the Ministry of Defense a perpetual responsibility of tracking potential threats surrounding the Dutch sector of the North Sea. This significant development was announced today to the House of Representatives by Minister Kajsa Ollongren.

Recognizing Sabotage Threats to Vital Infrastructure

The government acknowledges the risk of sabotage to crucial sea and subsea infrastructure. It could be mapping internet cables, gas pipelines, and wind farms or preparing for disruptions, sabotage, or espionage via data cables. To address these challenges, the Defense is now permanently involved in protecting this infrastructure, thus enabling it to better contribute to the threat landscape of the North Sea.

cyberwarfare north sea
cyberwarfare north sea (Click image to see it in full)

Enhancing Situational Awareness

The main aim is to boost situational awareness and understanding. This translates into the Defense building images and understanding of threat actors and factors in the North Sea. These observations are processed and could be shared with private partners and allies.

In this endeavor, the Defense closely collaborates with the Dutch Coast Guard. The coast guard already creates a detailed (traffic) image within its tasks for law enforcement, maritime security, and services.

The Defense now contributes to this while primarily focusing on state-level threats. Together with the coast guard, the Defense also strengthens its collaboration with (private) sector parties on the North Sea. However, the primary responsibility for protecting vital infrastructure still rests with the providers themselves.

Escorting Ships of Non-NATO Allies or Partners

With this permanent task, the cabinet also formalizes the escorting of ships of non-allies or partners through the Dutch section of the North Sea. Currently, the Defense regularly escorts Russian ships through the Dutch Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), based on agreements with NATO allies.

Surveillance and Shadowing Foreign Ships

Last week, Zr.Ms. De Ruyter and Zr.Ms. Tromp shadowed the Russian research vessel Admiral Vladimirsky in the North Sea. The Russian ship was navigating through the Dutch EEZ, which is permitted under international law.

The navy shadowed the Russian ship to show vigilance for protecting vital North Sea infrastructure. The ship gained international fame because it’s repeatedly linked to maritime espionage activities.

Role of Intelligence Services

The Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD), like the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), already plays a role in investigating (covert) activities posing a risk to national security, including the vital North Sea infrastructure.

Collaboration with the Coast Guard

Minister Ollongren recently visited the coast guard. She embarked on a Dash-8 patrol aircraft for a surveillance flight and observed how the environmental image is built. During the flight, she saw Zr.Ms. De Ruyter escorting the Russian research ship Admiral Vladimirsky in the North Sea from the air.

Reza Rafati https://cyberwarzone.com

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of Cyberwarzone.com. An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

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