The Dutch parliament has approved the deployment of Dutch troops on board Dutch merchant ships in order to protect them from piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
A number of Dutch ships have been hijacked by Somali pirates over the last several years, prompting the Netherlands to consider armed troops aboard merchant vessels. During the parliamentary decision process, the Socialist Party was the only one to vote against the measure, saying that were was not enough clarification regarding the mission, Radio Netherlands World reports.
Thirty Dutch sailors will provide security on board two ships sailing under the Dutch flag and a crane ship sailing under the Panamanian flag, all bound for the United Arab Emirates. The sailors will embark in the Indian city of Mumbai on Wednesday next week.
Another 20 Dutch sailors will protect a Dutch ship sailing from China to the Netherlands later this month. They will board the ship at Singapore and disembark in Djibouti after the 22 day journey.
The Dutch Ministry of Defence and the shipping companies will share the 1 million euro cost. The biggest expense will be transporting troops and military equipment. Radio Netherlands World says the cabinet will re-examine the way costs are divided since members of parliament are reluctant to approve such an expensive mission.
The operation will probably be more of an exception than a standard practice, according to Defence Minister Hans Hillen.
The move will be the first time military personnel will be on board merchant ships to protect them for piracy, Radio Netherlands World reported.
The Dutch navy is participating in international anti-piracy efforts off the Somali coast, with the frigate HNLMS Tromp having operated under the European Union’s Operation Atalanta and its frigate HNLMS De Ruyter taking part in NATO mission Ocean Shield. Dutch ships have captured dozens of pirates and destroyed a number of pirate craft over the last several years. One mission last year saw Dutch commandoes from the Tromp liberating a German ship and capturing ten pirates.