SOMALI BASIN – Just before midday on Sept. 26, Turkish frigate TCG Gokceada, flagship to the multi-national Combined Task Force 151, successfully disrupted a group suspected of planning an act of piracy.

The ship’s helicopter was scanning the southern Somali coast for pirate activity when a suspicious vessel was seen not far from the shore and near a suspected pirate camp, some 100 miles south of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Initial reports from the helicopter crew stated seeing the kind of equipment commonly used by pirates on the vessel. TCG Gokceada’s boarding team was quickly dispatched and boarded the suspicious vessel.

The seven-man boarding team found 21 drums of fuel, enough to sustain a small vessel at sea for many days, and a long ladder with hooks (the kind typically used by pirates to board large cargo vessels).

Approval was given for the boarding team to transfer the three personnel on the vessel ashore, to confiscate the fuel and ladder, and sink the vessel.

Commander Cihat Asan, commanding officer of TCG Gokceada said, “This disruption to this suspected pirate activity is a small, but significant step in sending the message that we are here as a credible and capable force, and that we have the resolve to deal with this issue.”

TCG Gokceada is the command ship for counter-piracy operations in the Somali Basin, where numerous ships from different navies are patrolling the area to rid the region of piracy, and provide maritime security in the busy shipping lanes. The coalition task force is currently being commanded by Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul from the Turkish Navy.

“My Task Force is here as a force for good. We are providing maritime security to all legitimate seafarers who require free use of the sea, without hindrance or threat from piracy. I am particularly glad that this boarding was dealt with so swiftly and professionally by all on TCG Gokceada, and that they did so safely and in accordance with all prescribed rules and regulations,” said Ertugrul. 

CTF-151’s mission is to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy, protecting maritime vessels of any nationality and securing freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin. In conjunction with NATO and EU Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR), CTF-151 conducts patrols in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and supports the Best Management Practice (BMP) methods that are promoted to the shipping industry for the avoidance of piracy.

CTF-151 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which is a unique naval coalition, dedicated to promoting security and prosperity across some 2.5 million square miles (6.5 square kilometres) of international waters in the Middle East. CMF’s main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment.