Two days after HNLMS Evertsen released a hijacked dhow, the small ship sailed home today. Very grateful, the saved seafarers said goodbye to the flagship of the NATO counter-piracy operation Ocean Shield.
“Of course we are here because of the importance of the sea lanes of communications and their relevance to global economy”, states NATO’s counter-piracy commander, commodore Ben Bekkering. “But the smile on the faces of the sailors of the dhow paints at least as strong a picture as container vessels arriving in Rotterdam”.
After a two day hunt in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, NATO’s flagship HNLMS Evertsen, boarded a pirated dhow in the early morning of 29 Jun and released seven hijacked Indian and Bangladeshi crewmembers. After the action, the saved seafarers stayed on board of the Dutch warship, to recuperate from the ordeal and share their experience. Meanwhile the sailors of Evertsen took care of the dhow. While both ships sailed towards the homeport of the dhow, the NATO staff stayed in touch with the Omani navy. When it became clear that the captain of the dhow had been brought to unknown waters by the pirates, the Omani navy was very willing to escort the dhow home. So on Sunday morning Evertsen and the Omani naval ship Al Muazzar met at sea.
“The past week the Al Muazzar also has been intensely searching for the dhow”, states commanding officer of the Evertsen, Commander Boudewijn Boots. Escorted by the Omani navy ship the dhow and its crew now sails home. Boots: “The relief and joy of the crew, after the tormenting insecurity about their fate, touched me. That’s why we are here.”
Naval Today Staff, July 2, 2012; Image: NATO