HNLMS Rotterdam captures pirates


The Dutch Landing Platform Dock HNLMS Rotterdam has disrupted a pirated dhow off the coast of Somalia, capturing the pirates on board and freeing the crew.

HNLMS Rotterdam is the flagship of the NATO Task Force 508 operating as part of operation Ocean Shield. The vessel, in close cooperation with the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) vessel FGS Sachsen, freed a pirated dhow off the coast of Somalia, according to the EU Navfor. The dhow was freed after a three-day hunt.

The dhow’s crew are reported to be in good condition. “The suspected pirates will be transported to Rotterdam and will be detained awaiting further decisions on the follow-on process,” the EU Navfor said.

HNLMS Rotterdam took over from the frigate HNLMS Evertsen in the waters off the coast of Somalia, departing the Netherlands early last month. The 166-metre long Landing Platform Dock offers enough space for extra units and materiel. The vessel has more than 350 personnel on board, belonging to the navy, army, air force and gendarmerie.

The vessel’s mission is to address piracy activities, patrol the Gulf of Aden, secure ships and strengthen ties with international partners, the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

For its present mission, the vessel has two Cougar helicopters, a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle system and eight small vessels, including four fast launches. The latter are used by teams of the Marine Corps to board suspect ships.

In order to enhance security in the recommended shipping route through the Gulf of Aden, navy ships participating in Operation Ocean Shield patrol the waters off Somalia. They discourage and disrupt groups of pirates that operate at distances of up to 750 kilometres off the coast. Every year between 20 000 and 30 000 ships, including UN food transports, pass through the Gulf of Aden.

Despite the presence of several foreign navies off the coast of Somalia, pirates have continued to seize vessels and to rake in millions of dollars in ransom payments, driving up the cost of shipping insurance. However, the number of successful pirate attacks has dropped significantly in the second half of this year.

The International Maritime Bureau has recorded 189 incidents of piracy and armed robbery around the world for 2012, including 20 hijackings. As of July 29, Somali pirates have been responsible for 70 incidences of piracy, including 13 hijackings in which they captured 212 hostages.