On Monday, 12 August 2013, the Dutch frigate HNLMS VAN SPEIJK concluded more than two months deployment in support of NATO’s counter-piracy Operation OCEAN SHIELD and began her voyage back to the Netherlands.
VAN SPEIJK joined OCEAN SHIELD just days before Commodore Henning Amundsen took command of NATO’s counter-piracy mission in Djibouti on 7 June.
On 4 August, Amundsen visited the Dutch frigate to express his sincere thanks for the VAN SPEIJK crew’s professionalism and commitment during their deployment under the NATO flag.
“The contributions VAN SPEIJK has brought to the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia have been greatly appreciated by all the actors involved in this common endeavour,” said Amundsen. “Having spent more than 80% of their deployment at sea, they have remained alert and at high readiness to safeguard the seafarers in the region. I wish HNLMS VAN SPEIJK fair winds and following seas back to the Netherlands.”
Together with the operation’s flagship HNoMS FRIDTJOF NANSEN, the Dutch frigate has continued the vigilant support that has resulted in no successful pirate attacks in the OCEAN SHIELD area of operations in well over a year.
In mid July, VAN SPEIJK conducted a visit to the Chinese hospital ship “Daishando,” or “Peace Ark,” in the Gulf of Aden. The crews of the two vessels exchanged information on medical treatment procedures and policies in case severely injured crew members need to be evacuated by air. These discussions enhanced the medical cooperation between the various navies in the region and further strengthened the relationship between NATO and China.
Later in July, the Dutch frigate visited the Seychelles to conduct a maritime exercise with the island nation’s Coast Guard, focusing on search and rescue operations and enhancing coordination and cooperation between the Coast Guard and NATO warships patrolling the Indian Ocean. VAN SPEIJK’s port visit to the Seychelles presented a valuable opportunity to maintain and improve the skills needed to support seafarers in distress.
Nearing the end of her deployment, the frigate hailed the largest ship presently operating in the world, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, as she made her maiden voyage transiting the Gulf of Aden. The meeting took place in the Internationally Recommended Transfer Corridor (IRTC), a shipping corridor used by commercial ships to take advantage of the naval protection offered by NATO, the EU and several international navies.
Press Release, August 14, 2013; Image: ACO NATO