Monday, July 2, 2012

Netherlands Increases Role in OceanShield

On 2nd July, just weeks after the Netherlands increased its contribution to the NATO anti-piracy fleet, Operation Oceanshield, it has arrested more alleged pirates - and this time handed them over to Oman for prosecution. The seven people were arrested on 29th June when the Dutch navy freed a hi-jacked Omani-flagged dhow.

After the incident, the Dutch commander of Oceanshield, Commodore Ben Bekkering, is reported as saying, "...the joy on the faces of the freed crew in an equally beautiful picture as container ships arriving in Rotterdam." (Bekkering has a Facebook and Twitter account he updates regularly.)
In 2010, Bekkering was captain of one of the first reported incidents of overt patrolling of coastal villages in Somalia. It is alleged that using both landing craft and the warship, Bekkering patrolled close enough into the shore to be able to observe  the coast and villages, and to stop boats and ships leaving the habours.

Netherlands has only within the last two weeks increased significantly its involvement in Operation Oceanshield. In early June, the Dutch parliament voted to  spend US$16.5 million, this money is to provide: extra personnel, two Cougar helicopters, a drone and an additional submarine. In the same week, the parliament turned down a request from merchant ship owners to use private security for protection.

As to Atalanta,  the Dutch parliament declared it 'controversial' due to the mandate that allows Atalanta forces to attack coastal 'pirate' camps from the sea or land. Operation Oceanshield still does not have this mandate.