The Dutch defense ministry has signed a ten-year lease agreement for a medium Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) ship that will allow the military to move cargo and vehicles on strategic operations.
With the agreement, the military organization is securing strategic sea transport on a permanent basis.
The defense ministry said the contract with the unidentified shipping company has been signed, with the ship set to be available by May. It also added that the move to sign such a long-term contract was prompted by the increasingly expensive and difficult process of leasing ships temporarily due to increasing scarcity on the commercial shipping market. The Dutch military previously hired ships on an incidental basis.
Now, the new RoRo will enable the Netherlands to more efficiently meet commitments to deploy certain units quickly. These commitments include participation in NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), or the EU Battlegroup (EUBG).
In addition to operational deployments, the ship will also be used to support international exercises. According to the defense ministry, the ship will have the capability to simultaneously transport 200 containers and 300 vehicles with an average length of 6 meters.
The Netherlands is not the first country to employ commercial ships for military logistics. The UK Royal Navy has been using ten Point-class sealift ships since 2002. Chartered by the UK MoD from Foreland Shipping, the ships are also used commercially when not required for military service. There are currently four ships in the class under the UK MoD charter.
Under a similar construct, the Dutch RoRo will made available to partner countries, for a fee, as the defense ministry noted.