France hands over to Pakistan at the CTF 150 Change of Command Ceremony

The Pakistan Navy has assumed command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), after conducting a handover ceremony with the French Navy. Rear Admiral Naveed Ahmed Rizvi assumed command of CTF 150 from Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas on 17th August 2017 during a ceremony held at Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain.

As the curtain falls on the four months of French-UK command, with nearly 1.75 tons of narcotics seized worth more than half a billion US Dollars, the team has enjoyed remarkable success.

The French-UK command tenure was split into two distinct phases. The first, Operation Southern Surge, focused on countering narcotics traffickers to disrupt terrorist organisations and restrict their freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain. Eleven warships from 7 countries conducted 34 boardings of suspicious vessels between them. Large narcotics seizures were made by the French frigate Surcouf, Australian frigate HMAS Arunta, and the UK’s HMS Monmouth. The operation was supported by 35 maritime patrol aircraft sorties spanning 210 hours of flight time.

The second phase of the command tenure from mid-June was focused on providing naval presence in the vicinity of the Bab Al Mandeb Strait to reassure the international maritime community after incidents involving merchant shipping in the area. Several warships patrolled the area, conducting transits through the crucial maritime trade corridor and upholding the free flow of commerce and shipping.

Additionally, the Commander of CTF 150, Admiral Lebas has sought to increase coordination with regional forces and actors outside of Combined Maritime Forces. Key leadership engagement was conducted with regional defence forces, law enforcement agencies, political bodies and NGOs in Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Madagascar and Saudi Arabia. CTF 150 warships were able to conduct capacity building, such as boarding training with local coast guards, enabling the sharing of proven techniques and best practices. Such visits further enhance the operation by building mutually beneficial relationships and improved information exchange.

Handing over command, Admiral Lebas said: “It has been my honour to lead this outstanding team of professionals who have worked diligently to achieve the CMF mission.

“I am delighted by the successes that the CMF ships and aircraft operating in support of CTF 150 have enjoyed. They have worked tirelessly to suppress terrorist activities by attacking the networks that fund them and deterring the unlawful use of the seas in this area of the world.”

Under a French lead, the staff of CTF 150 was the first combined French-UK command which has operationalised French-UK naval co-operation under the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF). This framework was initiated in 2010 under the Lancaster House Agreement between Paris and London. The staff also included officers from Belgium, Italy and Australia, and exercised command over ships and aircraft from several CMF participating nations.

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WARSHIPS OPERATING IN SUPPORT OF CTF150 CONTINUE PRESENCE PATROLS IN THE WESTERN GULF OF ADEN

Last week the Pakistani frigate PNS Alamgir and the Australian frigate HMAS Newcastle conducted a simultaneous replenishment at sea with the USNS Kanawha. This was followed by an opportunity to practice close in manoeuvres and improve interoperability. Both vessels are operating in the Gulf of Aden in direct support to CTF 150 and its counter terrorism mission.

CTF 150 is currently focused on providing naval presence in the vicinity of the Bab Al Mandeb Strait to reassure the international maritime community after incidents involving merchant shipping earlier this year. Warships continue to patrol the area, conducting transits through the crucial maritime trade corridor and upholding the free flow of commerce and shipping.

Under a French lead, the staff of CTF 150 is the first combined French-UK command which operationalizes the French-UK naval co-operation under the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF). This framework was initiated in 2010 under the Lancaster House Agreement between Paris and London. The staff also includes officers from Belgium, Italy and Australia, and exercises command over ships and aircraft from several CMF participating nations.

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CTF 152 UNDERTAKES SUCCESSFUL PASSEX

On 31st July and 1st August, ships from Combined Task Force (CTF) 152 successfully completed two Passing Exercises (PASSEXES) in the Arabian Gulf, together with associated Visit Board Search Seizure (VBSS) and Division Tactics (DIVTAC) exercises.

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A PASSEX is practiced to allow warships the chance to test and prove their ability to communicate and co-operate to ensure operational effectiveness and interoperability. These exercises help build an understanding of each ship’s capabilities, techniques, and procedures to further enable the interoperability of military forces in the region.

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In the first PASSEX on 31st July, the United States Ship (USS) Thunderbolt, United States Coast Guard (USCG) Aquidneck and Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF) ship Hitteen conducted a DIVTAC and a Photo Exercise (PHOTEX). The Commander of CTF-152, Colonel Adbelkader Almarahleh, Royal Jordanian Navy, commented on the excellent English that was used by the RSNF personnel during the exercise, as well as the impressive seamanship by all concerned.

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On 1st August, USS Thunderbolt and USCG Aqidneck conducted a VBSS exercise with the Royal Bahrain Navy Ship (RBNS) Muhharraq, which involved nine Bahraini and three USCG VBSS members. This was the first boarding for all the Bahraini VBSS team members, so proved to be an excellent example of capability development among CMF partners.

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CTF-152 is continually looking to increase interoperability among all its units, especially between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and non-GCC vessels. These successful exercises demonstrate the impressive progress being made in this regard.

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About CTF-152

Established in 2004, CTF-152 area of operations is one of the most globally significant and geographically constrained regions. The Arabian Gulf contains over 1,000 oil and energy installations and other critical pieces of infrastructure, such as desalination plants and port facilities. The Bahrain-based CTF-152 staff is drawn mainly from GCC nations, supported by CMF personnel and assets. CTF-152 coordinates Maritime Security Operations in the Gulf, facilitating cooperation and  interoperability between regional maritime forces.

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CTF151 CONDUCTS KEY LEADERSHIP ENGAGEMENT IN DJIBOUTI

Between 25-28 July 17, the Commander of CTF 151, Rear Admiral Emre Sezenler, Turkish Navy, travelled to Djibouti to engage with representatives of the Djiboutian Armed Forces and foreign military personnel based in Djibouti.

Key Leadership Engagement (KLE) is a core component of CTF 151’s mission. The engagement facilitates and promotes cooperation with Combined Maritime Forces’ regional partners, which include nations around our Area of Operations that participate in combating piracy.

Closer cooperation can include information sharing, capacity building and training exercises between CTF 151 warships and local maritime security forces during port visits. In this context, during the port visit in Djibouti, Turkish Navy Ship TCG Giresun conducted a capacity building activity, including visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training with the Djibouti Navy on 27 July.

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During the first day, Rear Admiral Sezenler visited the Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Alamgir, one of the CTF 151 assets. This was followed on day two by a visit to the Ambassador of Turkey, Ambassador Sadi Altinok, to discuss the dynamics of Djibouti. A courtesy call to the Commander of Armed Forces of Djibouti (Major General Zakaria Cheikh Ibrahim), accompanied by Commander of Navy (Colonel Abdourrahman Aden Cher), and Acting Commander of Coast Guard (Captain Mohammed Adawa) was also made. In this meeting  Admiral Sezenler reaffirmed the continued commitment of CMF to regional maritime security, and explained: “As CMF, we appreciate Djibouti’s continued support in terms of sea and air port access”.

WITH CO. OF DJI ARMED FORCES

The KLE visits where scheduled to coordinate with the CTF 465 Change of Command ceremony, which was held onboard the Spanish ship, SPS Galicia which Admiral Sezenler attended. After the ceremony, a coordination meeting was conducted with the EU NAVFOR team and the significance of coordination against piracy was emphasized. In this meeting, EU NAVFOR units were also invited to participate in CTF 151 comprehensive exercises, including Focused Operation and Counter Piracy Validation Exercises, to be held later in the year. Furthermore, Admiral Sezenler met other military represantatives during a reception organized by the Ambassador of Turkey.

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WITH EUNAVFOR

The local Japanese facility accommodating a Japanese P3 detachment (Deployment Air-Force for Counter-Piracy Enforcement or ‘DAPE’) was also visited. The contribution of DAPE to counter piracy operations was emphasised and Admiral Sezenler had chance to meet Japanese pilots and flight crew.

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WITH PILOTS

Commander of French Forces in Djibouti (FFDj) Brig.Gen. Thierry Duquenoy and Deputy Commander of Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF-Horn of Africa) Brig.Gen. Phil Purcell were also called on. Such visits establish a vital line of communication between organisations with overlapping objectives so that they can mutually support each other.

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On the final day of KLE Admiral Sezenler organized a lunch onboard TCG Giresun with the attendance of Ambassador Of Turkey to Djibouti and Commanders of Navy and Coast Guard of Djibouti.

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CTF151 PASSEX: COUNTER PIRACY FORCES MEET AT SEA FOR TRAINING

On 23rd July 2017 Turkish Navy ship TCG GIRESUN and the Pakistani Navy ship PNS SAIF conducted a series of exercises known as PASSEX in the Gulf of Aden.

A PASSEX is practiced to allow CTF 151 warships the chance to test and prove their ability to communicate and co-operate in the Southwest monsoon season to ensure operational effectiveness and interoperability in times of possible piracy attacks that may occur. The exercise helps build an understanding of each ship’s capabilities, practices, and procedures to further enable the interoperability of coalition forces in the region.

The PASSEX commenced with the establishment of UHF communications between the two ships, both under Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 command, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) which patrols the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.

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Exercises continued with a visual signal drill via Flag Hoist and a PHOTOEX via TCG GIRESUN’s organic helicopter, Sikorsky SH-70.

The exercise was concluded with series of maneuvering exercises including Leap Frogging, which provided a useful opportunity for ships to test and prove their ability to co-operate in order to ensure operational effectiveness and interoperability for counter piracy operations.

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Likewise, whilst on counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden on the 30th July, CTF 151 warship JS TERUZUKI rendezvoused with Indian Navy ship INS TABAR for conducting PASSEX.

This exercise showed good interaction between two warships and their determination to fight piracy in the area, it was also a good opportunity for coordination and communication between the CTF 151 assets and independent deployers.

 

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CTF150 CONDUCTS KEY LEADERSHIP ENGAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR

Between 10-14 July 17, the Commander of CTF 150, Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas travelled to Pretoria and Antananarivo to engage with representatives of the South African and Malagasy Defence Forces, regional maritime security agencies and political bodies.

Key Leadership Engagement (KLE) is an important component of CTF 150’s mission. The engagement facilitates and promotes cooperation with Combined Maritime Forces’ regional partners, which include nations around our Area of Operations that participate in combating terrorist activity and illicit trafficking.

Closer cooperation can include information sharing, capacity building and training exercises between CTF 150 warships and local maritime security forces during port visits.

In Pretoria, Admiral Lebas met with representatives from the regional office of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), an organisation with whom CMF maintains a close relationship. Smuggling patterns and observations in the southern area of the Indian Ocean over the last six months were discussed, and Admiral Lebas updated the office on CTF 150’s recent seizures and successes.

This was followed by a visit to the Joint Operations Headquarters of the South Africa National Defence Forces at Valhalla. The working visit served to increase the understanding and awareness of both parties’ interests and intents over the coming months.

From South Africa, the Commander CTF 150 travelled to the Madagascan capital Antananarivo to engage with the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre, a relatively new agency created to collect and analyse maritime traffic information to create a recognised maritime picture for the region. The visit established a vital line of communication between two organisations with overlapping objectives that can mutually support each other.

The final stop was a meeting with representatives of the Malagasy National Defence Forces, including the Chief of General Staff, Major General Razafindrakotc and Commander of Naval Forces Vice Admiral Ranaivoseheno. Both visits served to improve the Malagasy awareness of CTF 150 operations, and to discuss the current narcotics situation in and around the island of Madagascar.

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HMAS ARUNTA’s FINAL TASK IN CTF150

HMAS Arunta Conducts Capacity Building with Tanzanian Authorities

Between 21-22 June HMAS Arunta visited the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. The frigate has been supporting Combined Task Force 150 and its counter-terrorism mission in the Northern Indian Ocean. HMAS Arunta is now on her way home after a highly successful mission and has now been replaced by HMAS Newcastle as part of Australia’s contribution to CMF.

Port visits provide warships with opportunities to refuel, carry out repairs, restock supplies and time for the crew to rest and refresh themselves. They are also important engagement opportunities whereby the vessel and its crew can interact with the host nation.

In Dar es Salaam members of the crew of Arunta provided training to the local law enforcement detachment (LEDET) on outboard motor engineering, boat handling and first aid.

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