HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën Completes Deployment With EU Naval Force And Hands Over To HNLMS Van SpeijkAugust 26, 2014 - 16:08
HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën is on her way home after a successful three months deployment to the EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta, the counter-piracy mission of the European Union.
Before joining Operation Atalanta, the ship conducted two-weeks of pre-deployment training on her way to the Suez Canal. After a brief stop in Malta, the Maltese Special Duties Enhanced Boarding Team (MSDEBT), was integrated with the Dutch crew in order to provide boarding capabilities required for counter-piracy operations. Finally, the HNLMS De Zeven Provincien joined EUNAVFOR on 19 May 2014after transiting the Suez Canal.
The first port visit took place in Djibouti, where a terrorist attack caused 6 minor injuries amongst the crew. The suicide attack was later claimed by Al Shabaab, but ship and crew were however able to continue the mission, and started its deployment patrolling the IRTC and along the Somali coast.
During her first patrol, HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën conducted 27 friendly approaches on local dhows and skiffs. The friendly approaches provided an opportunity to inform the seafarers about the EU Naval Force presence and the on-going piracy threat.
The embarked NH90 helicopter flew 180 hours during the mission, significantly enhancing the area covered by the ship and helping to compile a detailed picture of the pattern of life at sea in Somali and surrounding waters.
To enable HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën to remain on patrol for a number of weeks, the ship carried out 9 replenishments at sea (RAS) with different oilers, including FGS Berlin, FGS Röhn, USNS Tippecanoe, USNS Patuxent, USNS Laramie and RFA Wave Ruler.
Halfway through her deployment, the Dutch frigate visited Port Victoria in the Seychelles. During the port visit a delegation of the Seychelles Coastguard was hosted for Local Maritime Capacity Building, supporting the EUCAP Nestor initiative to build up maritime capacities in the region. On board the Dutch frigate, eighteen recruits of the coastguard were briefed on Operation Atalanta and afterwards the crew provided a tour around the ship focused on the execution of boarding procedures and counter-piracy operations.
In August, HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën also completed the escort of a World Food Program (WFP) vessel, along the coast of Somalia from Berbera to Bossaso. With the ongoing food insecurity in Somalia protecting WFP vessels remains a primarytask for Operation Atalanta.
On Wednesday 20 August, a medal parade was held on board the ship, last as a last step before the final conclusion of the Dutch frigates deployment as part of Operation Atalanta. With this medal each crew member is recognised for their service as part of the EU Naval Force.
The Force Commander of EU Naval Force Rear Admiral Rando, stated: “It has been a pleasure and an honour working with such a capable ship and such a competent and professional crew. You have provided valuable support to the EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta. Now for all of you it is time to rejoin your families and friends for a well deserved rest. Always fair winds and following seas”.
HNLMS Van Speijk Relieves HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën
HNLMS Van Speijk left her home port Den Helder in the Netherlands on 10 August to join the European counter-piracy Operation Atalanta.
Before entering the area of operations further preparation was necessary: additional specific training for the mission and the integration of all attached units on board had to be executed.
Integration training with the boarding team began upon departure, as well as tabletop exercises for specific counter-piracy scenarios and situations. Luckily weather conditions in the North Sea and in the Bay of Biscay were favorable which allowined for valuable training time. Van Speijk executed this pre-deployment training together with her sister ship from the Belgian navy, BNS Leopold. Both ships were supported during their transit by HNLMS Amsterdam, providing them with supplies and fuel.
The Mediterranean Sea acted as the operations area for the final ‘exam’. In this phase several complicated counter-piracy exercises were executed as well as three boardings on different ships. After finalising these exercises the Dutch task group commander, Captain Boots, declared both ships mission ready to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Before entering the Suez channel Van Speijk met the HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën just leaving Operation Atalanta, for a hand-over operation at sea. During this operation all necessary materials and area specific knowledge was transferred from the crew of De Zeven Provinciën to their counterparts of the incoming crew.
After a successful handover, the remaining hurdle was the transit of the Suez Canal, after which Van Speijk began her participation within the EU Naval Force. HNLMS Van Speijk and her crew are eager, well equipped and willing to contribute to operation Atalanta and are looking forward to act in accordance with the guidance of the Force Commander, Rear Admiral Guido Rando.
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