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Armed guards to protect Dutch vessels

13 January 2022

More than 10 years ago Nautilus began to fight for private armed security teams to protect seafarers on Dutch merchant ships. Now Parliament has finally approved the law that allows them onboard. Nautilus Dutch legal officer Mieke den Hollander explains.

Nautilus Dutch legal officer Mieke den Hollander

Nautilus had many meetings with political parties, attended hearings in Parliament, arranged press attention, and offered a petition signed by many seafarers to Members of Parliament alongside the Royal Shipowners Association (KVNR) and the Dutch Organisation for Captains (NVKK), but the Dutch political parties and the ministry refused to agree for many years.

Luckily in 2016 the liberal party (VVD) and Christian party (CDA) took the initiative and proposed a law (the Wet ter Bescherming Koopvaardij WtBK) to allow armed private security to protect seafarers against piracy in the High Risk Area off Somalia/East Africa. Nautilus, KVNR and NVKK were involved in this legislative process. In 2018 and 2019 Parliament approved this law.

However, additional legislation was needed to implement it. Nautilus, KVNR and NVKK were again involved, and in recent weeks this additional law was approved by Parliament.

From 2022 shipowners can legally hire armed security. Seafarers will no longer be protected only by Navy vessels far away, but they will have armed protection onboard their own ships.