The Dutch Landing Platform Dock HNLMS Johan de Witt joined the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia – Operation Atalanta on 6 August 2013.
For the next 4 months, Johan de Witt will be the EU Naval Force flagship, hosting the Force Commander, Commodore Peter Lenselink, and his multinational staff on board.
HNLMS Johan de Witt is a Landing Platform Dock, 176.5 metres in length and 16,948 tonnes displacement. She can accommodate up to 600 persons and has many different assets, teams and capabilities on board, such as an enhanced medical facility, with a fully equipped operating room and a specialized medical team. Two Cougar helicopters are embarked, a Landing Craft Task Element and a Scan Eagle UAV, an unmanned aircraft. The warship also has a team from Belgium on board who operate a specialized boarding craft known as a Fast Raiding Interception and Special Forces Craft (FRISC) and a Maltese Special Duties Enhanced Boarding Team (MSDEBT), who are trained to execute maritime awareness and security operations and are able to board ships when necessary.
This is not the first time that the Dutch warship has been part of the EU Naval Force, having also participated in the mission on April 2010.
Talking about his ship and crew, the Commanding Officer of Johan De Witt, Captain Frank Foreman Royal Netherlands Navy, said “The men and women on board Johan de Witt are ready in all respects to conduct this important operation, including the deterrence, prevention and repression of piracy, and our national contribution to help bring stability and security worldwide. We have a multinational crew, including a Belgium FRISC team and a Maltese team capable of performing maritime situational awareness operations, among other things. As well as naval teams, we also have personnel from the Air force and Army, who work side by side on a daily basis. We look forward to the coming months and the many challenges that we will undoubtedly face to help strengthen stability and security.”
Before joining EU Naval Force, HNLMS Johan de Witt conducted an intensive programme of training, including Operational Sea Training (OST) in Plymouth, United Kingdom and specific training for counter piracy operations in The Netherlands.