Yesterday's engagement between a suspect dhow and the Royal Netherlands Navy landing ship dock Hr.Ms. Rotterdam was an uneven fight, despite sustained fire by suspected pirates. NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, and the Dutch Ministry of Defense have released a photo of billowing smoke coming out of the burning dhow.
RHIB approaching dhow
During a routine surveillance mission, a boarding team in a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) from the Rotterdam was approaching the suspect dhow near the coast when it came under fire from ashore and from the dhow itself. The Rotterdam returned fire, causing the dhow to catch on fire and 25 crew members abandoned ship and were rescued by the Rotterdam.
Commodore Ben Bekkering, commander of the NATO counterpiracy task force led by the Rotterdam, said that the Rotterdam and its RHIBs remained under sustained fire from the shore throughout the engagement, even while trying to rescue the crew of the burning dhow and one of Rotterdam’s RHIBs was damaged. One dhow crew member was killed and eight were wounded, while the Dutch remained unscathed.
The commander of the Rotterdam, Capt. Huub Hulsker, said the action was conducted by three RHIBs, with an unmanned aerial vehicle flying overhead and the Rotterdam close by.
Dutch Ministry of Defense photos