(MINA SALMAN, Bahrain) Turkish Navy Rear Admiral Sinan Ertugrul, right, relieves Republic of Korea Navy Rear Admiral Beom-rim Lee, left, as commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), at a change of command ceremony hosted by U.S. Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), center, aboard Turkish flagship TCG Gökçeada. CTF-151 was established in January 2009 to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy, protect maritime vessels of all nationalities and secure freedom of navigation in an area of operation encompassing 1.1 million square miles in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin. CMF is a 25-nation coalition based in Bahrain that promotes security and prosperity throughout some of the world's most important shipping lanes. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Brown/Released)

MANAMA, Bahrain – Rear Admiral Beom-rim Lee of the Republic of Korea Navy, Commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), was relieved by Rear Admiral Sinan Ertugrul of the Turkish Navy at a formal ceremony onboard the Turkish flagship TCG Gökçeada at the port facility at Mina Salman, Bahrain.

CTF-151 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 25-nation coalition based in Bahrain. CTF-151 was established in January 2009 in order to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy, protect maritime vessels of any nationality and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all. CTF-151’s Area of Operation (AOR) encompasses an area of 1.1 million square miles in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.

Lee assumed command of CTF-151 on April 21, 2010. This was the first time the Republic of Korea has led an international mission based task force associated with CMF.

Lee said, “The Republic of Korea Navy is proud to have been at the forefront of CMF’s efforts to help to confront piracy over the last four months. The men and women from 21 ships from seven different countries who have served under my command have performed their duties with skill and dedication.”

“One of the main tasks I set for my command was to establish stronger communications with NATO and EU Naval Force’s own counter-piracy operations, and with the independently deployed navies operating in this region. It is important for us to share the latest strategic operations and tactical knowledge and I believe that we have worked seamlessly together toward our mutual goals,” said Lee.

Ertugrul said, “Illegal activities such as piracy and armed robbery are not only a threat to global maritime commerce, but also have disruptive effects on the freedom of navigation, which is directly linked to maritime security.”

“CTF-151 will continue its crucial role to enhance maritime security and to secure freedom of navigation in support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions,” said Ertugrul.

Ertugrul added that, “with indispensible support from CMF HQ, I am sure that my distinguished international staff from Turkey, Canada, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and the U.S., and my flagship TCG Gökçeada, will represent the very best of their nations toward the achievement of our common objectives of security and peace in this deployment.”

Highlights of Lee’s command included:

– Improved inter-task force coordination with the Combined Task Forces 465 and 508; the European Union and NATO counter-piracy tasks forces.

– Enhanced communications with the independently deployed navies operating in the area and conducting counter-piracy missions, particularly the Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Malaysian navies.

– Established and maintained strong ties with regional militaries and governments of Djibouti, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

– Improved air operations with assigned surface and air assets, leading to better positioning of forces ready to counter the ongoing threat.

The end results were a decrease in occurrences of piracy activities in the area of operations, improved early warnings, actionable intelligence of piracy attacks, and an increase in the number of disrupted attempts.

CTF-151 is a multinational force which has included Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, UK and U.S. This is the second time Turkey has led CTF-151. Rear Admiral Caner Bener of the Turkish Navy, commanded CTF-151 from May 30 to August 13, 2009.

CMF units are committed to working together in order to promote security and prosperity across some 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. Its main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment.