HNLMS Johan de Witt and RFA Lyme Bay have participated in the US led international exercise ‘Cutlass Express’.
The exercise, which was held in several operational areas in the waters off East Africa, is a maritime exercise, designed to improve cooperation, tactical expertise and information sharing practices among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the region.
On Tuesday 12 November, a team from HNLMS Johan de Witt, together with 23 servicemen from Djibouti, Uganda, Somalia and Rwanda came together to discuss and train in evidence handling procedures, with the focus on dealing with suspected Somali pirates.
Lt Jaap van den Hoed of the Royal Netherlands Navy, who was one of the participants of Cutless Express stated: “The cooperation between all participants was excellent. I think that together we made fruitful steps in enhancing the maritime security in the region. It is crucial that evidence handling is carried out in the correct and effective way to ensure that anyone caught or suspected of committing acts of piracy, are brought to justice.”
On the second day of the exercise, a medical team from HNLMS Johan de Witt conducted medical training for Cutless Express participants in Djibouti, with the basic principles of treating victims practiced. The so called CABCD method was briefed, highlighting the initial checks that should be carried out on a victim: Catastrophal bleeding, Airway, Breathing, Circulating and Disability. Afterwards, the participants trained on applying a chest seal, a bandage and a tourniquet.
An important part of dealing with piracy, is the ability to perform boarding operations to search a vessel. During Cutless Express, RFA Lyme Bay took the opportunity to practice and demonstrate boarding operations on a large merchant vessel. The Cutless Express participants were divided into three teams and tasked to ‘search and secure’ different sections of Lyme Bay: from the Machinery Control Room to the Bridge on 9 deck.
Members of the Embarked Forces from Lyme Bay played the role of the crew of the vessel being boarded. As part of the training, the participants were also tasked to check the crew’s details and ship’s documentation to ensure all was in order. As part of the scenario, one member of the ship’s company played the part of a suspicious passenger who had to be located and secured. The whole evolution was covered by the local Djiboutian press.
Press Release, November 21, 2013; Image: EU Navfor