In the past land was distinguished from maritime territory by the presence of industrial and military assets that needed to be defended. This is no longer the case.
As the size, diversity and importance of sea-based assets and activities increase, whether it’s windmills, undersea cables or offshore rigs , so do the entry points for criminal and terrorist actions, and for disturbances and attacks by state actors. As ‘sea’ becomes more like ‘land’, guaranteeing the security of structures and processes in the North Sea warrants more attention, and could potentially necessitate new approaches.
As an open economy and society, the Netherlands in particular is vulnerable not only to cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, but also to hybrid threats to its maritime infrastructure. Its key position on the North Sea, means that its ports occupy a strategic logistical role in supplying NATO forces to the East. This could make it a potential target for hybrid attacks by states such as Russia.
The focus of this report is thus to identify trends in the growth of sea-based assets in the North Sea, analyze their vulnerability to hybrid threats and interpret the impact of these developments for the Netherlands Coast Guard and the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Download the report here.
HCSS director of the security program Frank Bekkers handed the first copies of the report to Admiral René Tas, Navy, and Jan van Zanten, Director of the Netherlands Coastguard.
In The Media:
“This is a matter of national security,” author Frank Bekkers commented on EenVandaag television. “We’re building vital infrastructure further and further out at sea, but we have neglected to think about their security. How are we going to defend our vital interests in the North Sea?” Members of Parliament Jeroen van Wijngaarden (VVD) and Derk Boswijk (CDA) respond as well, demanding action from the government.