Protecting merchant ships against piracy

Piracy poses a threat to the free passage of ships. This is particularly the case on the dangerous shipping routes through the Gulf of Aden and around the Horn of Africa near Somalia. Ship managers may apply for security for their ships if their ships are due to pass through these areas.

Application for the protection of a merchant ship
Vessel Protection Detachments (VPD's) bewaken een schip

Security team types

Since 2011, shipowners have been able to call on special security teams of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. These security teams are called Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) and consist of armed marines. Since the entry into force of the Merchant Shipping (Protection) Act, merchant ships sailing under the Dutch flag have been allowed, under certain conditions, to carry armed private security guards.

Applying through the Netherlands Coastguard

Ship managers may submit an application to the Netherlands Coastguard for security for their ships. The Netherlands Coastguard checks whether the application form has been completed accurately and in full. It checks the application for a VPD and also considers the conditions that must be met to be allowed to carry members of a Private Maritime Security Company (PMSC). The decision on the deployment of a VPD is made by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. Permission to carry members of a PMSC is given by the Director of the Netherlands Coastguard on behalf of the Minister of Justice and Security.


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