Ships sailing through the Somalian High Risk Area may receive protection against piracy. This is currently only possible with deployment of a military unit – the Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) – that is commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Defence. While their work is greatly appreciated by Dutch shipowners, it does sometimes present challenges.
Enlisting the protection from the VPD is not an option for some shipowners from the point of view of flexibility, scope and costs. It is in these situations, that a shipowner must have the opportunity to employ private security guards. In this way, a shipowner can protect his crew and ship against piracy in all circumstances. The Ministry of Defence has identified three factors on which the deployment of the VPD depends. These factors are not flexible.
Flexibility: A VPD unit can sometimes not be deployed on board a ship on time due to the length of time required for processing an application. In the spot market especially – in which numerous Dutch ships operate, and in which cargoes must to be transported within a few days – the deployment of a VPD unit is difficult to guarantee.
Scope of the VPD: In order to guarantee the safety of its own personnel, the Dutch Ministry of Defence has determined that a VPD unit must consist of at least eleven soldiers. However, Dutch ships are often quite small, with a limited number of cabins on board. As a result, there are sometimes simply not enough sleeping places on board for the VPD.
Costs: The Dutch Ministry of Defence has set the costs for deployment of a VPD unit at €5,000 per day; to be paid by the shipowner. Furthermore, VPD personnel must (dis)embark at locations determined by the Ministry of Defence. Due to detours in sailing routes and additional fuel costs, this can lead to extra costs for the shipowner, who then cannot afford the costs of the VPD unit.
Watch a Dutch Vessel Protection Detachment from frigate Hr.Ms.Tromp liberate a German merchant ship on Easter Monday 2010.