Duch Ministers, Chief of Defence Visit HNLMS De Ruyter
On Saturday 6 April Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited frigate HNLMS De Ruyter which is currently deployed with the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta off the coast of Somalia. For the visit, the Prime Minister was accompanied by his Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and the Chief of Defence General Tom Middendorp.
The crew of HNLMS De Ruyter demonstrated their and the ship’s capabilities to counter piracy off the Horn of Africa, which was very well received by the dignitaries.
Whilst pirate attacks have reduced over the past 18 months, recent disruptions by the EU Naval Force show that pirates are still intent on getting out to sea to attack ships and any complacency by ships transiting the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden will be seized on by pirates. The EU Naval Force and other counter piracy forces remain committed to counter piracy and whenever possible, will seek a legal finish when suspected pirates are apprehended at sea. In the first 3 months of this year 21 suspected pirates have been transferred for prosecution, nine of which were apprehended by De Ruyter.
“From those results we all reap the benefits,” says Prime Minister Rutte. “Every year between 20,000 and 30,000 large commercial vessels pass through the Gulf of Aden, many of which are on their way to the port of Rotterdam. Approximately 450 vessels sail under the Dutch flag. As well as countering piracy and keeping the seas safer for seafarers, HNLMS De Ruyter also contributes to greater security for international economic trade. Dutch sailors are doing a great job off the coast of Somalia. We in the Netherlands can without doubt be proud of them and their achievements.”
Minister Hennis said that tackling piracy saves money for the Dutch people: “Products such as clothes, mobile phones or televisions that come by sea to the Netherlands would certainly be more expensive if they have to travel a much longer route around the African continent to avoid the waters off the coast of Somalia.”
Prime Minsiter Rutte went on to say “Whilst piracy happens at sea, the problem comes from the shore. We endeavour therefore to help take away the breeding ground for piracy. At present, the Netherlands have nine personnel serving with the European Union Training Mission Somalia (out of a total of 125 personnel), providing military training to members of the Somali National Armed Force (SNAF) to enable Somalia to build their own security forces. There are already more than 2,000 people trained. Stability in Somalia for the long term is the only real solution to the piracy problem.”
Naval Today Staff, April 10, 2013; Image: EU Navfor