CTF-151: Counter-piracy

Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with non-member forces, CTF-151’s mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.

History

Somalia has been identified as the source of the modern day piracy in this region that has grown from the economic, social and political strife that has gripped the country since the mid 1990s.

The rise of piracy in the region can be directly linked with the fall of the stable government and breakdown of law and order in Somalia in 1991. Gangs formed under local clan loyalty and warlord leadership and developed into the piracy groups of today.

Piracy threatens the passage of thousands of merchant vessels passing through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.

CMF’s existing task force in the region, CTF-150, was tasked with maritime security operations, which include counter terrorism and maritime security. However, piracy is considered more of a law enforcement mission, in which pirates have no connection to terrorism. It was decided that CTF-150 could not conduct counter-piracy operations effectively in the region with their maritime security mandate. Consequently CTF 151 was established in January 2009 with a specific piracy mission-based mandate under the authority of UNSCRs 1816, 1838, 1846, 1851 and 1897.

Composition

CTF 151 is a multinational force.  Command of CTF-151 is rotated between participatory nations on an approximately three to six month basis.

The force flow in CTF 151 is constantly changing as ships and aircraft from a variety of countries assign vessels, aircraft and personnel to the task force.

Counter-piracy

In conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR), and together with independently deployed naval ships, CTF 151 helps to patrol the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf Aden.

Commercial shipping cannot underestimate their power to prevent and defend themselves from pirate attacks. By following simple Best Management Practice advice, merchant vessels can reduce the chances of being successfully pirated.

CMF supports Best Management Practice (BMP),  as promoted by the industrial shipping community. BMP offers advice and guidance on avoiding piracy and is targetted at seafarers who intend to travel through the Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and the Indian Ocean. Measures include: maintaining a proactive 24 hour lookout; reporting suspicious activities to authorities; removing access ladders; protecting the lowest points of access; the use of deck lighting, netting, razor wire, electrical fencing, fire hoses and surveillance and detection equipment; engaging in evasive manoeuvring and speed during a pirate attacks; and joining group transits.

CMF and CTF-151 also undertake regional and key leader engagement, strategic communication and pro-active public affairs.

For the most up to date information on maritime security please go to www.mschoa.org