The Dutch House of Representatives will tonight make a decision about the use of armed guards on board ships travelling through Somali.
Until now merchant ships sailing through high-risk areas, like Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, are only allowed to get protection from military guards through vessel protection detachments (VPD). These have to be commissioned by the Ministry of Defence.
Critics say the VPD option lacks flexibility, speed and cost effectivity, particularly for smaller vessels. The Dutch Shipowners Association KVNR is now taking the bill to the Dutch government to argue that this is reason to allow shipping companies to hire private security agencies for these voyages.
There are proposed measure to monitor the quality of these agencies. MPs Ten Broeke and Van Halvert are in support of the change and say a private security firm has to be accredited in accordance with the EU rules.
The current Government have been criticised for their slow progress in allowing private guards on dutch-flagged ships. Critics have said their slow pace has increased the risk of pirate attacks onboard Dutch ships.
In 2017, 136 vessels were boarded across the globe, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked. ARX Maritime have developed Anti-Piracy barriers as a way to prevent pirates boarding a vessel. They work as an alternative measure to armed guards.
More to follow as the story develops…