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Dutch Frigate Exercises Counter Piracy Mission

May 29, 2012 - 18:02:42 UTC

Dutch Frigate Evertsen Prepares For NATO Counter Piracy Operations

Source: Netherlands Ministerie van Defensie

Under cover of darkness, masked Netherlands marines in a small fast dinghy approach alongide the merchant vessel held hostage. With rope ladders they climb on board. A few brief orders and there follows a rapid overthrow of the hijackers on the bridge of the vessel. The boarding exercise for the frigate HNLMS Evertsen over the weekend was successful.

With the release of the hijacked ship, a number of previous training scenarios come together. The Evertsen used the exercise to prepare for its participation in the anti-piracy operation Ocean Shield in the Horn of Africa. The air defense and command frigate serves as a flagship for a NATO fleet.

"A hijacked ship mission is extremely complex and risky," explains Evertsen Commanding Officer, Captain Boudewijn Boots. "Except where the special units and ship bring their expertise together." The frigate has a number of additional capabilities on board for this mission, such as a helicopter crew, a specialist medical team and a so-called enhanced boarding element of the Marine Corps. The vessel can disrupt piracy and hijacking attempts.Evertsen Helo

On the way to the deployment area, various exercises take place, such as repelling an attack from fast incoming boats, weapon training, rappelling with a rope down from the helicopter, boarding exercises with the small dinghy (rigid hull inflatable boat), the removal of the injured and dealing with the affairs of suspected pirates. They all form the prelude to the final exercise for the liberation of a hijacked ship.

Piracy is a serious threat to global trade. Since 2008, Netherlands has provided a significant military contribution to international anti-piracy off the coast of Somalia. Although the international effort is effective and the number of hijacked vessels decreases, active control remains necessary. "For the shipping routes, the main artery of the world economy, it has to be secure, but also to contribute to growth of stability in the region," said Commander Ben Bekkering. As commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, he is aboard the Evertsen as it heads to the Gulf of Aden. There it will Command the NATO fleet's anti-piracy Operation Ocean Shield.

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