Pakistani Rear Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, left, passes a ceremonial scroll to Royal Australian Navy Commodore Gregory Sammut, right, during a Chnage of Command Ceremony for Combined Task Force 150, as Royal Navy Commodore Tim Fraser, centre, looks on.

 The Royal Australian Navy today assumed command of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).Rear Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi SI(M) of the Pakistan Navy was relieved by Commodore Gregory Sammut of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

CTF-150 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 25-nation coalition based in Bahrain.

CTF-150 exists to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities across an area of two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.

The CTF 150’s principal mission is to deter, disrupt and defeat attempts by international terrorist organizations (ITOs) to use the maritime environment as a venue for an attack or as a means to transport personnel, weapons and other materials. This is done by conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO). CTF-150 vessels also assist mariners in distress and undertake humanitarian work as required.

CTF-150 is a multinational task force. Participatory nations have included: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, and Turkey, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

This is the second occasion in which Australia has led CTF-150. Commodore Richard Menhinick RAN was in command between Dec. 16, 2009 and April 15, 2010.

Commodore Gregory Sammut, RAN said, “It is a privilege to be entrusted with Australia’s second command of CTF 150. My team and I look forward to building on the outstanding achievements of Rear Admiral Abbasi and his staff, and working closely alongside our CMF partners and regional friends to promote security and stability throughout the surrounding maritime domain.”

The ceremony concluded the Pakistan Navy’s fourth successful command of CTF-150. During his six month command tenure, Rear Admiral Abbasi commanded a range of ships from CMF member nations, including Australia, France, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the U.S. The admiral also visited a number of littoral countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Jordon to strengthen relations with CTF-150.

In his farewell speech Rear Admiral Abbasi said that CTF 150 has come a long way since its inception, “It is a coherent force that is able to respond effectively to the challenges it faces.” He added, “Command of CTF-150 for the fourth time is a manifestation of Pakistan Navy’s continued commitment to support coalition efforts to maintain peace and lawful maritime order at sea. We feel proud for having contributed wholeheartedly, and to the best of our abilities, to advance the cause of maritime security in the region that undoubtedly is vital for the economic prosperity and well being of the world at large.”