74 • island
I S L A N D P U L S E
Aruba celebrates 350 years of the
Netherlands Marine Corps
his year, the highly respected Netherlands
Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers) celebrates 350 years
in existence. Home to one of its bases, Aruba happily
joins in the celebration.
The base was built by the Dutch in Savaneta,
Aruba, in 1938 (when Aruba was still a Dutch colony)
for the protection of the island’s refinery, which was
extremely important to the Allied war effort. Today,
the base serves as the government’s maritime security
partner, here to protect and secure infrastructure such
as the airport, the water and electricity plant, and the
now-defunct refinery. The base collaborates greatly
with the Aruba Police Department, the Aruba Coast
Guard, the K-9 unit, the 60 Aruban Militia members
who work on the base, and the Social Formation
program, designed to rehabilitate problematic youth
by introducing them to an army lifestyle at the base.
The base also reinforces stability in the region, serving
not just Aruba, but also collaborating with the Marine
bases in Curacao and St. Maarten.
The Marines in Savaneta are prepared with
emphasis on physical training. They learn the
correct handling of weapons, carry out amphibian
exercises, and enjoy serious practice partners among
the American Marine Corps and the French Caribbean
forces. Their preparedness is especially important for
carrying out humanitarian aid missions in the region.
As explained by Lieutenant Colonel J.P.C. (Jan) ten
Hove, commandant of the base, most Marines volunteer
to come to the base in Aruba after undergoing basic
Marine training, sometimes after seeing some action
in Africa, the Middle East, or other far-off corners of
the world. When here, most of them reside off base,
send their kids to school, and live the island life when
not working. In other words, they are very much a
part of the island’s social fabric.
As a member of the Dutch Kingdom, Aruba is
proud to host the Netherlands Marine Corps on its
soil. Every year, 10,000 locals flock to the Corps’
Open House, where Marines take part in sports
competitions and special events. The entrance of the
Savaneta base has even become one of Aruba’s iconic
images, reflecting the great respect that Aruba has for
this 350-year-old military organization.