The following was reported by the German Navy blog Marine forum, “8 January, PIRACY–Anti-Piracy Forces: Sweden is preparing for another mission (M-04) in support of EU operation “Atalanta”, this time working jointly with the Netherlands navy … COMBAT BOAT 90 fast interceptor craft, helicopters and 70 personnel to embark on Netherlands Navy dock landing ship JOHAN DE WITT.”
As you may recall, I have advocated using WPCs supported by a mother ship to supplement the larger cutters for distant drug interdiction operations.
We have done cooperative counter drug operations with the Netherlands Navy in the past. Early last year, the Netherlands OPV Zeeland embarked both a CG LEDET and a CG helo det.
Perhaps we could run a test using the Johan de Witt or her sistership Rotterdam to try out the mothership concept. Their crew size is similar to that of the National Security Cutters (less than that of the Hamilton class), but they have berthing for hundreds more. They have aviation facilities for up to six helicopters. They can handle boats from both davits and a well deck. They have excellent Command and Control facilities.
“The ships have a complete Class II hospital, including an operating theater and intensive care facilities. A surgical team can be stationed on board.” That could make them welcome in a lot of ports.
Would the Dutch be interested? The Dutch Navy has already demonstrated its commitment to counter drug trafficing. They have used these ships several times for counter-piracy. Counter drug operations are not that much different, and piracy seems to be in decline. When it was being finished, there were reports that the Dutch wanted to sell the Johan de Witt. Operating off Latin America might be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate both this class and the Netherlands’ ship building expertise in an international market.
What might the experimental effort include. In addition to the mothership, perhaps three MH-65s, add a mix of Webber class WPCs, WPBs, Response Boat Mediums (RB-M), and Navy Riverine Command Boats (the US Navy version of the Combatboat 90).
In addition to its counter drug objectives, the deployment might be seen as a partnership station effort, training as well as working with the locals, and if there should be a natural disaster while they are in the area, it will be a ready made Coast Guard response.