Dutch MPs agree to troops on merchant ships

23rd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Dutch parliament has agreed to deploy Dutch troops on board a number of Dutch merchant ships to protect them against piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. The only party to vote against the measure was the Socialist Party, which said too many things about the mission were unclear.

The first Dutch sailors will embark in the Indian city of Mumbai on Wednesday. Thirty sailors will join two tow boats sailing under the Dutch flag and a crane ship sailing under the Panamanian flag. The convoy will sail to the United Arab Emirates. Later this month 20 other sailors will sail with a Dutch ship sailing from China to the Netherlands - the troops will join the ship for 22 days at Singapore and disembark in the Republic Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

The operation will cost 1 million euros altogether and the costs will be shared between the Ministry of Defence and the shipping companies. Most of the costs will be for the ministry as it covers the costs of transporting troop and military hardware. The cabinet has promised to take another look at how the costs are divided as MPs are reluctant to approve such high spending.

Defence Minister Hans Hillen expects this kind of operation to be an exception rather than the rule. The minister declined to say what material will be on board to prevent attacks by pirates. This is the first time military personnel will be on board merchant ships to protect them for piracy.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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