Yesterday, the Royal Netherlands Navy's LCF air defense and command frigate Hr. Ms. De Ruyter stopped suspected pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, with the support of its NFH90 helicopter. Nine suspected pirates were captured and taken on board the De Ruyter, which, as part of the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia, is participating in the Operation Atalanta counter-piracy mission.
Royal Netherlands Marine boarding teams approach skiff (Dutch Ministry of Defense photo)
After a Panamanian-flagged merchant vessel tipped off EU NAVFOR, the NFH90 located the two high-powered skiffs. When the helicopter approached, materiel was thrown off the two skiffs and they tried to escape in different directions. After a chase, the NFH90 stopped the first skiff, while the second skiff was located and stopped by an SH-60 helicopter from the Spanish navy frigate ESPS Mendez Nunez, the EU NAVFOR's flagship.
Operation Atalanta is the first operational deployment of a Dutch or any country's NFH90.