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NATO Dutch Warship In Gunfight Off Somali Coast

October 24, 2012 - 20:13:27 UTC

Dutch Warship in Firefight With Pirates in Dhow and From Somali Shoreline [UPDATED]

Original source: Netherlands Defense Netherlands Ministry of Defence

A boarding team from HNLMS Rotterdam was reported to have been shot at twice during the NATO mission off Somalia. Gunfire is exchanged with dhow and fired upon from ashore.

Burning Dhow in Gunfight With Dutch Warship - Photo; NL MoD

Burning Dhow in Gunfight With Dutch Warship - Photo; NL MoD

The first instance occurred during routine surveillance when a fishing vessel, seemingly occupied by pirates, and the second occasion from the Somalia shoreline. The Dutch boarding party returned fire and very quickly the dhow ignited in flames and those aboard jumped into the water to escape the blaze as the Dutch answered  in self-defense against the dhow. Commodore Ben Bekkering, commander of the NATO Task Force, said that the Rotterdam and her boats remained under sustained fire from the shore throughout the incident, even while attempting to rescue the crew of the stricken dhow. None of the naval personnel were injured. 25 people on board the dhow were rescued from the water after their ship had caught fire.

A medical team aboard the Rotterdam went to the aid of those in danger of drowning. One person was killed during the action. Eight were treated for injuries. "We know that pirates look to use larger dhows as mother ships. Hence we often visit the vessels," says Commodore Ben Bekkering.

"It's one of the ways we have to put pressure on the pirates. Suspected pirates openly seek confrontation, which the Dutch Navy has previously experienced, but not very often. This does not happen often and it indicates that we are indeed impeding their operations and in doing so, pushing them to take more extreme options."

After today's attack, Commodore Bekkering said it made two things very clear, "Firstly, it is obvious that the scourge of piracy has not gone away and we need to maintain our vigilance. Secondly, the risks to the pirates themselves are becoming much greater and while we regret any loss of life we will deal with any threat we encounter in a firm, robust but always proportionate manner."

The commander of Rotterdam, Captain Huub Hulsker explained that the action was carried out with appropriate safeguards. "We had an unmanned aircraft in the air, 3 RHIB's (fast motor boats) in the water and the near Rotterdam itself. That saw us ready for any action that could come when they opened fire from the dhow." When the action began, one RHIB was slightly damaged by a bullet.

"It was striking that gun fire was opened from ashore when the boats personnel jumped into the water. We are now focusing on the care of the survivors, consisting of both crew of the dhow and suspected pirates."

In another operation two weeks ago, seven pirates were detained, with evidence transferred to a Spanish frigate for prosecution in Spain. One minor was put ashore on the beach.

In consultation with the NATO headquarters in Northwood, and national authorities in the Netherlands, we will look at the next steps. HNLMS Rotterdam currently continues on her patrol as part of Operation Ocean Shield, NATO's contribution to the international anti-piracy mission.

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Submitted by Team@oceanuslive.org


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