The Swedish-Dutch naval force on its way to protect civilian shipping and fight pirates in the Gulf of Aden – near Somalia – as part of the European Union operation Atalanta has had its first week at sea.
On Saturday 24 January 2015 the Royal Netherlands Navy Landing Platform Dock (LPD) L801 HNLMS Johan de Witt left the quay of Dutch Naval Base Den Helder. On board the command element of the next rotation of operation Atalanta: about 40 Swedish military personnel including the Swedish Force Commander Admiral Jonas Haggren, the Force Headquarters (FHQ) staff, two fast combat boats (CB90s) and two Swedish Armed Forces HKP 15s (Agusta 109) with crew and ground personnel.
The Royal Netherlands Navy adds a NHIndustries NH90 – flown in cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Air Force – and about 360 personnel to man and operate the ship, a landing vessel (LCU), four fast FRISC RIBs, the Marine Corps boarding teams and the on-board hospital.
During the first week at sea, the combined Swedish-Dutch naval force trained on procedures and joint operability. Ship, crew and helicopters are expected to be operational in the mission area on 6 February. The joint unit is expected back in Den Helder in May 2015. When the Swedish choppers are home again, they will first go to the vet.
The two Swedish Hkp 15 (Agusta A109) naval helicopters deployed off the coast of Somalia have returned home on August 21, 2013, to be checked by an animal expert, according to a press release by the Swedish Armed Forces.
During the last four months the two choppers gave naval vessel HMS Carlskrona necessary support and increased operating range while fighting pirates at sea near the Horn of Africa, part of the international effort called Operation Atalanta.
On August 20, 2013, a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter took the choppers from Djibouti to F17 Malmslätt at Linköping, home of the Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Command (Försvarsmaktens Helikopterflottiljen). Upon arrival they will spend 10 days in quarantine, then will receive maintenance and only then will return to active service with 3 Helicopter Squadron at Ronneby in southern Sweden.
,,We want to be sure there are no small harmful things left in for example earth particles on the helicopters”, writes a Försvarsmaktens press spokesperson. ,,Believe it or not, the helicopter will even get a check-up by a veterinarian.”
After the enduring contact with salty water some helicopter parts will be changed, mostly bolts and screws.
HMS Carlskrona will return from Africa the coming weekend. 3 Helicopter Squadron and its naval Hkp15s at Ronneby will next participate in Northern Coasts 2013, a two week exercise at the Baltic Sea in the middle of September.