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Price lowered for Dutch marines

naval commando teams in VPD formation (credit: Dutch Navy)

(BRUSSELS2) Pressure from shipowners played a role. The Minister of Defense, Hans Hillen, has agreed to review the prices for the protection of ships by the Navy in risk areas of the Indian Ocean.

Too expensive, Marines?

Even if they recognized that the presence of marines on board their ships is the " better guarantee for the security of the transport of goods in areas where pirates are rampant ", the shipowners considered that this (public) service was much more expensive than that of private companies and that it harmed the " competitiveness of the Dutch pavilion. The contribution of shipowners for these ship protection detachment teams (VPD) will thus be reduced from 8.300 euros to 5.000 euros per day. Which puts the bill for 14 days of navigation, at 70.000 euros instead of 116.000 euros “, thus explained the Minister in a letter sent to the shipowners and the deputies of the 2nd chamber.

Five VPDs deployed in the last three months

Remember that the Netherlands has not authorized private armed guards on board ships flying their flag, preferring to provide military personnel for sensitive journeys. According to a latest report drawn up by the minister, Defense has received 17 requests from the merchant navy in the last three months. One request did not meet the established criteria: it was a request for preventive assistance on a route well outside the area where Somali pirates operate. Only 5 were therefore followed by an effective deployment of marine commandos aboard these ships: the Your Shines, from Singapore to Malta (April 11 to May 5); the Talisman, from Jebel Ali to Singapore (May 10-31); the Tern Singapore to Bahrain (June 6-20); Target from Sjarjah to Abu Zenima and back (June 16 to July 11); the Tern again, from Bahrain to Singapore (June 25 to July 7). Five applications were withdrawn because the owners indicated that the cost of a VPD was too high. Four other requests were not accepted because the time between receipt of the request and the start of the VPD deployment was too short. This left 7 requests corresponding in fact to five deployments.

Demand lower than forecast

The demand for support is, in fact, lower than expected. The defense budget for 2012 thus provided 23,4 million euros for the deployment of VPDs, including 11,3 million euros covered by shipowners. But this budget has so far only been used to the tune of €3,8 million, half of which (1,6 million) paid by the shipowners. The Hague is therefore considering the deployment of 175 VPD teams in 2013. A figure to be related to the size of the Dutch merchant navy (1160 ships).

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).