Monday, April 26, 2010

The Netherlands Trying New Tactic Against Pirates


After the succesful mission of HNLMS Tromp against Somali pirates, the Netherlands are using a new tactic against pirates. They are now patrolling much closer to shore with LPD HNLMS Johan de Witt and are using its LCVPs and LCU's to patrol close to known pirate harbours to stop Pirate Action Groups. In the 4 days since they started patrolling, they have catched (and per EU dictum - released) 2 of these PAG's.

By using their landing crafts to patrol the pirate infested waters, the Dutch are showing that quantity has quality of its own.
And I would think that it should be easier to catch the pirates closer to were they left, because the area to look for pirates is smaller (although still quite large) compared to trying to find them when they are 700NM away from the Somali coast.

To me it looks like the reason for this new tactic was a necessity: the lack of usable naval helicopters in the Dutch armed forces. Of the 14 Lynx helicopters the Dutch still have in operation -out of the original 20- only 2 are fit for onboard duties. One of those is always on duty in the Carribean and the other one was on HNLMS Tromp. This last one was in need of major maintenance and thus wasn't transferred to the Johan de Witt.
So the delivery of a naval NH90 helicopter on April 21 by AgustaWestland -the first naval NH-90 to be delivered to anyone- that arrived in the Netherlands today, is only the first (small) step in the right direction.

And in the meanwhile the Dutch have also decided to deploy ships to the Somali basin until at least April 2011. From July - April first HNLMS De Zeven Provinciƫn, then HNLMS De Ruyter and finally HNLMS Tromp will join NATO operation Ocean Shield. During this time the Dutch will take Command of the NATO fleet. And from September-November the AOR HNLMS Amsterdam will be deployed to Operation Atalanta.

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