European Union Naval Force Medal Parade Held On Board HNLMS Johan De WittDecember 3, 2013 - 17:49
On Tuesday 3 December, 350 military men and women serving on board the Dutch flagship HNLMS Johan de Witt received the EU Naval Force medal for their contribution to the European Union’s counter piracy Operation Atalanta.
During the medal ceremony which was held on the flight deck in the Gulf of Aden, the international staff and ship’s company were decorated by the Force Commander of Atalanta, commodore Peter Lenselink of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Commodore Lenselink praised the EU flag staff and ship’s company “You have all done very well. The European Union can be proud of your efforts in order to make the Horn of Africa safer. We have operated in a sea area which sees between 20,000 – 30,000 merchant ships sailing through each year, with many of them destined for European ports. The work you have carried out was due to the real concerns of our countries about the safety of maritime trade and stability in the region. If ships can’t sail safely through the Gulf of Aden, we immediately notice this in the price of gas for our car and in the prices of goods in the stores.”
Commodore Lenselink praised the results in counter piracy operations so far, but warned that piracy is not over yet. “Due to international cooperation, piracy is now under control. But it is not over yet. Pirates have attacked vessels and we have seen that Pirate Action Groups are still taking their chances. If we leave now, the pirates will come back.”
HNLMS Johan de Witt left her home port of Den Helder in The Netherlands on 14 July 2013. On 6 August the Royal Netherlands Navy warship became the flagship of Operation Atalanta, with the Force Commander, Commodore Peter Lenselink, and his multinational staff embarked. On 6 December, Commodore Lenselink will hand over the command of Task Force 465 to his successor, Contre Amiral Hervé Bléjean of the French Navy and on 21 December HNLMS Johan de Witt’s crew will return home to their families in time for Christmas.
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