The Dutch Ministry of Defense is reducing the costs of vessel protection detachments (VPD) based on its experience deploying Royal Netherlands Marines on merchant ships. Costs have been reduced through efficient planning of air transport and the forward deployment of VPDs, according to the ministry, which is working with shipowners to adapt regulations for financial contributions, including reducing the lead time for requesting VPDs.
Dutch Ministry of Defense photo
Between December 2011 and the end of last month, the ministry received 37 requests, including 16 from the Dutch coastguard and 12 through the Curaçao maritime authority. Twelve of these requests were withdrawn by shipowners, 24 met the criteria for countering piracy and armed attacks at sea, and one was rejected because it was for a route far away from the area where Somali pirates are active.
Of the 24 requests which were accepted, nine were too late to deploy a VDP and 15 were eligible to receive VDPs, of which six were withdrawn by shipowners.
Only one VDP was involved in an incident, on 17 January, when Marines beat off an attack with directed fire. In all other cases, the Marines' presence was enough to deter pirates.