As of August 4th, 2012, HNLMS Rotterdam is the flagship of NATO counterpiracy operation Ocean Shield.
The Landing Platform Dock took over the tasks of air defence and command frigate HNLMS Evertsen in the waters off the coast of Somalia.
Along with the Rotterdam’s 320-strong crew, Commodore Ben Bekkering and his staff will also be based on board the Dutch ship. Bekkering has been in command of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 flotilla since January.
The 166-metres long LPD offers enough space for extra units and materiel. Especially for this mission, two Cougar helicopters from Defence Helicopter Command have been stationed on the ship. Royal Netherlands Army units on board gather intelligence with the help of the Scan Eagle unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. The Army also provides medical staff for the on-board hospital of the Rotterdam. Furthermore, there is a hydrographical-meteorological unit on board and there are 8 smaller vessels, including 4 very fast launches. The latter are used by teams of the Marine Corps to board suspect ships.
In order to enhance security in the recommended shipping route through the Gulf of Aden, navy ships participating in Operation Ocean Shield patrol the waters off Somalia. They discourage and disrupt groups of pirates that operate at distances of up to 750 kilometres off the coast. Every year between 20,000 and 30,000 ships, including UN food transports, pass through the Gulf of Aden.
Source: Defensie NL, August 9, 2012