Application for the protection of a merchant ship against piracy

The Gulf of Aden and the waters off the coast of the Horn of Africa have been classified as risk areas. Ship managers may therefore apply for security for their ships if their ships are due to pass through these areas.

Download the application form


Ship managers may apply for the protection of their ships by Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs). Ship managers may also apply for permission to have armed private security guards on board.

Steps of the application process

  • The ship’s manager completes the application form. This form has a VPD part and a Private Maritime Security Company (PMSC) part.
  • The Netherlands Coastguard and Ministry of Defence assess the VPD part. The principles and agreements for this part of the entire application procedure did not change with the coming into force of the Merchant Shipping (Protection) Act. Thus, it is checked whether the application is complete and correct with regard to, among other things, whether the ship has the Dutch flag, the case concerns the Gulf of Aden sailing area, a risk analysis has been conducted and the BMP5 measures are complied with.
  • If the application qualifies for military protection from a VPD, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence assesses whether it can provide a VPD in time.
  • If the Netherlands Ministry of Defence can provide a VPD in time, the following questions must be answered:
    – whether there is a disproportionate detour to be made (> 100 nautical miles) from the VPD pick-up points;
    – and/or if there will be disproportionate costs in the case of VPD deployment (+40%) compared to the PMSC quote and VPD costs.
  • If the Netherlands Ministry of Defence cannot deliver in time, the PMSC application will be further assessed (step 6).
  • If the answer to the questions in 4a is ‘no’, permission for PMSC protection will not be granted on the grounds mentioned in the Act, and deployment of a VPD will follow. If the answer to one or more questions is ‘yes’, the PMSC application will be further assessed.
  • The PMSC application is assessed against various conditions laid down by law.
  • Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs)
  • In order to be able to assess an application and come to a decision, information is required from the ship’s manager. This information must be submitted through the application form.

Explanatory notes to the application form

Name of applicantThe application for assistance may only be submitted by the shipowner.
Flag of the shipThe Dutch government can only provide assistance if the ship sails under the Dutch flag and Dutch jurisdiction applies. Ships registered in Curaçao: these must submit the application for assistance to the Maritime Authority Curaçao.
Position, destination, routeThis information is required to decide to what extent this is a risk area. The shipowner must indicate which alternative routes have been considered and why these are not realistic. If it concerns territorial waters, the Dutch government has no jurisdiction and is dependent on the coastal state.
Type of ship and cargoThe shipowner must indicate whether the type of ship or type of cargo poses an ‘additional’ risk in the specific risk area. To do this, it is necessary for the Dutch government to know what type of ship it is and what cargo is being transported.
Measures takenThe shipowner bears primary responsibility for protecting against piracy and armed robbery. It is therefore assumed that the shipowner carried out a risk analysis prior to accepting the cargo. The Dutch government must be informed about the risk analysis, the information consulted, such as International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Maritime Bureau (IMB) information, and what (security) measures the shipowner has taken.
Risk analysisA risk analysis for the journey and the ship in question must also be included.

Special circumstances

Special circumstances may occur, in which case the Dutch government may decide to provide assistance even if the above conditions are not met. In order to determine whether special circumstances exist, the Dutch government requests the information mentioned in the table.

Name and place of business of the shipownerThe name of the shipowner, including the place of business, must be entered here. de vestigingsplaats dient hier te worden aangegeven.
Nationality of the persons on boardThe shipowner must indicate what nationalities are on board, both for the passengers (possibly via the passenger manifest) and the crew.
Special circumstancesIf, according to the shipowner, there are special circumstances that necessitate assistance of which the Dutch authorities should be aware when assessing the application, the shipowner may report them here.

Private Maritime Security Company (PMSC)

An application for a VPD must be submitted first. This application may be accompanied by the application for PMSC protection. In the process, various requirements are weighed up when a PMSC application may be submitted. However, the PMSC application also starts with an application for protection by a VPD. For security by a PMSC to be authorised, several conditions must also be met.

Application procedure

The application must be submitted to the Netherlands Coastguard Centre ( using the form. The Netherlands Coastguard receives the application, checks its content and conducts an initial check. The designated and trained employee of the Netherlands Coastguard checks the application for a VPD and also looks at the conditions for having a PMSC team on board. The decision on the deployment of a VPD is made by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. Permission to carry a PMSC team is given by the Director of the Netherlands Coastguard on behalf of the Minister of Justice and Security.

Submitting an application

Download the application form, complete it and send it by email to


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