On board the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN) amphibious ship Johan de Witt, which is participating in the EU's Operation Atalanta counterpiracy mission off the coast of Somalia, is a 22-strong Maltese Special Duty Enhanced Boarding Team (MSDEBT). Together with Royal Netherlands Marines boarding teams, the MSDEBT can free ships hijacked by pirates, boarding with helicopters or rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).
Dutch Ministry of Defense photo
The Maltese received training to do so in the Netherlands. This included practicing entering, exiting and fast roping from a Cougar helicopter at Gilze-Rijen air base. The MSDEBT has also been training during the voyage between Malta and the coast of Somalia. Today, it practiced boarding the Johan de Witt from Cougar helicopters and RHIBs.
This is the third time a Maltese unit is participating in a counterpiracy mission on an RNN ship.
Malta is a member of the EU and the only country to have left NATO's Partnership for Peace program only to join again.