القوات البحرية المشتركة تتمنى لكم عيد مبارك
كل عام وانتم بخير
Combined Maritime Forces wishes you a happy Eid
القوات البحرية المشتركة تتمنى لكم عيد مبارك
كل عام وانتم بخير
Combined Maritime Forces wishes you a happy Eid
During Ramadan, a combined mix of maritime forces in Bahrain has conducted an Iftar Ceremony alongside their naval vessels.
On Wednesday 21st June members of the Royal Navy’s United Kingdom Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) invited members of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) and the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) to an Iftar meal, the breaking of the Ramadan fast at the end of each day. The fast is officially broken at sunset, with a short prayer followed by a sociable meal with friends and family.
Seniors Officers, naval ratings and other guests were hosted by Captain Simon Asquith RN the Deputy Commander of UKMCC. He said: “We have taken the opportunity, whilst in Bahrain, to connect with local religious and military leaders as a gesture of respect for our local hosts” and added: “we have excellent relations here in Bahrain and as we prepare to open HMS JUFAIR later in the year this strengthens our ties and understanding as we operate alongside the RBNF and CMF.”
The UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Islamic Advisor, Imam Asim Hafiz OBE who conducted the ceremony said: “Hosting an Iftar party is an honour and something that governments all around the world routinely do for their Muslim citizens” adding: “I have been honoured to have led this ceremony and prayers with our naval brethren here in Bahrain”. Imam Asim also had the opportunity during his visit to meet with Bahraini military counterparts to discuss mutual understanding and religious and cultural cooperation.
Accompanying him was the Chair of the UK’s Armed Forces Muslim Association, Major Naveed Muhammed MBE from the UK’s Royal Corps of Signals, who assisted with the event. A traditional snack of dates and water was served in the Majlis tent set up on the jetty next to HMS Middleton and HMS Bangor. Naveed said: “At a time of turbulence in the world this was a great opportunity for personnel of all faiths, and from different nations, to share in this Islamic breaking of the Ramadan fast” adding: “sharing these rituals helps create an open understanding, which is vital today.”
After the meal Naveed said: “The role of the UK Armed Forces can sometimes be misunderstood. It was a privilege to be able to take part in this engagement. It was an important opportunity alongside individuals from strategic partner nations in a sensitive part of the world and was an excellent way in which to highlight the UK Armed Forces’ commitment to better understanding the areas in which they operate therefore improving mutual understanding which ultimately leads to respect for each other.”
A Japanese Rear Admiral and his headquarters staff have met the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force and visited a South Korean warship, three weeks before the end of their operational tour.
Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF, Commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), has been based in Bahrain since early March with his multinational staff of 25 people from 11 countries including both Bahraini and South Korean naval personnel.
During a South Korean port visit to Bahrain, the Commanding Officer of destroyer ROKS Choi Young, Captain Kyung-Ryul Kim, visited the headquarters of CTF151, accompanied by Captain Sung-Hyeok Choi, Commanding Officer of destroyer ROKS Dae Jo Yeong. Later, at a reception on board ROKS Choi Young, Rear Admiral Fukuda met Dr Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahriain’s Undersecretary of International Affairs, and His Excellency Koo Hyunmo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea.
In the same week, His Excellency Rear Admiral Sheikh Khalifa Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF), welcomed Rear Admiral Fukuda during the Task Force Commander’s visit to the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, accompanied by His Excellency Mr Kiyoshi Asako, Ambassador of Japan.
A tour of the Al Manama Class corvette RBNS Al Muharraq and training vessel RBNS Al-Budaiya demonstrated to Rear Admiral Fukuda some of the RBNF’s capabilities. He was shown around the vessels by the Commanding Officer of RBNS Al Muharraq, Captain Arif Al-Rouye.
The meetings enabled Rear Admiral Fukuda to express his thanks to both Bahrain and South Korea for their support and assistance. ROKS Choi Young has made a significant contribution to counter piracy operations in the region over the last four months and ROKS Dae Jo Yeong will now join CTF151. Bahrain continues to support CTF151’s counter piracy operations, having contributed two personnel to the international team.
In discussions with Rear Admiral Fukuda, the South Korean officers were able to discuss escort procedures for merchant vessels, counter piracy operations and maritime security. As Japan and South Korea are both maritime nations operating in the region, there was agreement about the importance of freedom of navigation for merchant ships. These thoughts were echoed in discussions with the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, who stressed the importance of working together in a multinational environment.
Rear Admiral Fukuda said: “It is important for counter piracy operations that maritime forces work together with international partners.” Commenting on the week’s events, he added: “These visits gave me confidence that our nations can continue to operate alongside each other to confront future challenges to freedom of navigation on the high seas.”
HMAS Arunta has completed a third significant narcotics interdiction after seizing 260kg of heroin in the Indian Ocean, while operating in support of the French-UK led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
The Royal Australian Navy frigate intercepted the dhow after the ship’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected it acting suspiciously on 7 June during a planned surface search.
The following morning, the frigate’s boarding team climbed on board the suspect vessel and began conducting their search. The smugglers go to extraordinary lengths to hide the valuable cargo, meaning searches can take several days on larger dhows. For example, in a recent seizure in support of CTF 150, the contraband was hidden below 2,500 kg of ice. Boarding teams use specialised search techniques and equipment to discover the illicit cargo and expedite the process.
Commander Cameron Steil, Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, praised the professionalism of his crew after conducting operations in difficult weather conditions.
“Arunta’s skilled personnel working throughout the night and in difficult conditions have once again prevailed in disrupting narcotics smuggling activities in the Middle East region. This success can be fully attributed to the dedication and professionalism of Arunta’s Ship’s Company who have continued to set a high standard of operational competence,” said Commander Steil.
The interdiction takes Arunta’s tally of narcotics seizures since beginning her deployment in November 2016 to approximately 1.5 tons, including heroin and hashish. “Instead of saturating national drug markets and contributing to the funding streams of terrorist organisations, the narcotics have been destroyed. HMAS Arunta and her crew have continued their excellent work in support of CTF 150,” said Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas, Commander of CTF 150.
Major General Frewen, Commander of Joint Task Force 633, added: “HMAS Arunta has a strong reputation within the Combined Maritime Forces as being tenacious and meticulous in their pursuit of illegal cargoes and the discovery of these concealed drugs shows how well trained, equipped and motivated our personnel are.”
Following a recent Combined Maritime Force focused operation, a counter piracy task force has developed significant insights into the activities of mariners off Somalia.
The operation, code named ‘Samurai Sword’, enabled counter piracy forces from Japan, USA, South Korea and Pakistan, working in Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), to enhance their interoperability alongside the EUNAVFOR task force, CTF465, and independent assets from India and China. The ships, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) enabled enhanced engagement with maritime communities in the region.
Since March there have been several attacks on vessels off the Somali coast. This increase in potential pirate activity prompted CTF151 to develop a closer understanding of fishermen and other mariners transiting these waters, particularly those in the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and the Socotra Gap between the Horn of Africa and the Socotra Islands.
Acting as a deterrent force against any further pirate activity, CTF151 forces operated across the region for two weeks from 14 May. The operation drew to a close with the onset of the monsoon season, with deteriorating weather reducing the potential for pirates to operate.
During the fortnight, one of the ships in the task force, JS Teruzuki, responded to a Mayday call from a dhow off Puntland. The ship’s helicopter was launched to assist, as the dhow neared the coast. Local security forces were alerted, taking control of the situation and ensuring the dhow crew’s safety. Commenting on the actions of the Ship’s crew, Commander CTF151, Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF said: “That JS Teruzuki was able to launch her helicopter and maintain communication with both the dhow and the Puntland security forces was due to planning and a growing understanding of mariners needs in the region.”
The focus of Operation ‘Samurai Sword’ was interaction with local commercial traffic. The discussions aimed to build understanding with the maritime community and confidence that CTF151 is present in the region for the protection of all legitimate mariners. This knowledge will enhance the abilities of counter piracy forces in the future.
On completion, Rear Admiral Fukuda added: “This was an opportunity for CTF151 to work closely with our counter piracy partners, developing our knowledge of seafarers in the region and reassuring the maritime community.”
As his visit to counties in the Arabian Peninsula came to a close, the commander of a counter piracy task force identified real maritime security benefits from the tour.
Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF, Commander Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) and Counter Piracy Coordinator for the region, visited Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, and Riyadh and Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, before returning to Bahrain, where CTF151 HQ is based.
At a time when the maritime community has seen an increase in piracy-related activity in the region, the Rear Admiral was also able to incorporate meetings to interact with merchant maritime industry leaders and representatives [See previous MEIVOM update by CMF dated 04 Jun 17].
While in Muscat, visits with the Commander of the Royal Navy of Oman, Rear Admiral Abdullah bin Khamis al Raisi, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Major General Hamad al Hatmi, and Commanders of the Coast Guard and the Air Force indicated a shared willingness to work towards improvement of security at sea, whether from pirates or smugglers.
The UK frigate HMS Monmouth was undertaking a port visit to Muscat, which coincided with the Rear Admiral’s time in Oman, and the CO of the ship, Cdr Ian Feasey RN, prepared a capability demonstration and lecture on the occasion. As HMS Monmouth participated in CTF151’s exercises earlier in the year, this was an opportunity for the Rear Admiral to recognize the efforts of her ship’s company.
The Rear Admiral’s visit to Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enabled an insightful meeting with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Lieutenant General Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani. He also had meetings with the Chief of General Staff, General Abdul Rahman al Banyan, and Commander of the Saudi Navy, Vice Admiral Abdullah S al Sultan, discussing maritime security issues.
Flying to Jeddah, the Rear Admiral met the Western Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Saeed al Zahrani, and toured the facility including a ship visit to HMS Dammam, a Saudi destroyer. The Commanding Officer, Cdr Ahmed Assiri, welcomed the visitors and introduced his officers to the Rear Admiral.
As the tour moved through the region, this was an ideal occasion to share information about CTF151 and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) with Japanese business leaders and diplomatic staff working in the Middle East. The talks presented by Rear Admiral Fukuda were well received by the audiences and elicited many questions.
Upon completion of his busy engagement schedule, Rear Admiral Fukuda said: “These visits were very important in enabling broad discussions with key leaders across the region.” He added: “Maritime security is important to all the nations we visited. CMF will continue to work hard in partnership with these and other countries to reduce smuggling, piracy and other risks to the freedom of navigation.”
Recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb have highlighted that there are still risks associated with transits through these waters. In addition to several attempts at piracy, attacks by small, high speed boats using small arms, rocket propelled grenades, and significant amounts of explosives have been conducted against MV GALICIA SPIRIT in October 2016 and MT MUSKIE in May 2017. In the case of the MT Muskie, the ship’s embarked security team was able to thwart the attack resulting in the small boats breaking off their attack and one boat exploding for an unknown reason at a safe distance from the Muskie. While these small boat attacks were both unsuccessful, and the identity of the attackers remains unknown, they demonstrate a new threat to the maritime community.
In response to these threats the Combined Maritime Forces will be increasing the naval presence in the western Gulf of Aden. It is important to note however that these attacks can develop rapidly and having warships positioned for an effective response depends on information provided by the shipping community.
To assist in providing this information, it is recommended that all mariners sailing through the High Risk Area register their transits with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA). In addition, vessels should report to UK’s Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) when entering the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) and immediately if witnessing any suspicious event. This will provide military forces in the area visibility on your transit, allow accurate accounting of your vessel, and enhance our ability to respond to any sort of attack.
Finally, military risk assessments indicate that adherence to Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4) and the use of armed security teams remain the best guidance available to help protect your ships in the event of an attack. All members of the shipping community are encouraged to strictly adhere to the guidance contained in BMP4 in order to make their ships much harder targets. However, the use of BMP4, armed security, or any other defensive measures remain the sole decision of the vessel operator based on their own dedicated risk assessment.
Maritime security will always require a team effort. CMF looks forward to working closely with our regional military partners and the shipping industry to ensure the free flow of commerce. It will take all of us, working together, to be successful.