Increased protection for ships rejected
Dutch marines will not be stationed on merchant ships, the ministry of defence announced Wednesday.
The Hague – Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop on Wednesday rejected a plea by members of parliament for marines to protect merchant vessels against Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
In a response to the lower house, Van Middelkoop said it would be irresponsible to deploy marines on board merchant ships. He was concerned that the move would lead to an escalation of violence.
Moreover, servicemembers who were injured in clashes with pirates would not be able to receive adequate medical care, the minister said.
He added that there are major logistical, legal and financial objections to such a move. He instead favoured providing naval escorts to merchant shipping convoys, as has been the practice for the past six months.
The announcement came after a Dutch vessel was released by pirates on Tuesday after being held for over a month. One crew member was killed and another wounded in the incident.
The royal association of ship owners has expressed disappointment in Van Middelkoop’s decision. The association pointed out that other European countries including Germany, France and Belgium have provided their merchant vessels with protection from marines.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica