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First trial by fire for Dutch VPDs

(credit: Dutch Navy)

(BRUXELLES2) Embarked on board the Flintstone, the Dutch Marines had to fight back today against the immediate threat of a pirate attack.

It was around 18 p.m. (European time) in the Arabian Sea when a suspicious dhow was reported. The alarm was immediately sounded on board the flintstone, an offshore vessel (specialized in riprap for oil exploitation, andoperated by Tideway, an offshore subsidiary of the Belgian dredging group DEME). And the crew took refuge in the citadel (according to current customs). In the meantime, the dhow had launched a skiff.

A first warning shot, by a rocket, was not enough to stop the attackers. They cocked their RPG and aimed it at the ship. The Marines then responded. According to the Dutch navy, it is possible that the action caused casualties among the pirates. The ship then returned to the Suez Canal, its final destination being Malta.

NB: This is the first significant action by the Dutch VPD since the decision of the Hague government to provide the most sensitive ships, flying the Dutch flag, with on-board protection teams made up of military personnel (on the French model) rather than to authorize private armed guards.

Read also: More protection teams embarked by the Netherlands in 2012

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).