Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Melbourne has been assigned to CMF's counter-piracy mission (CTF 150). She has previously operated with CTF-150, which is concerned with maritime security and counter-terrorism. (Picture: RAN).

Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Melbourne joined Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), the counter-piracy mission operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), Nov 16.

HMAS Melbourne arrived in the Middle East region in September and has thus far been assigned to CTF-150, another CMF task force primarily concerned with counter-terrorism and region-wide maritime security.

Melbourne will now spend the next few weeks with CTF-151, concentrating her efforts on deterring and disrupting piracy and armed robbery in the Somali Basin, Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. In doing so, she will join her Turkish Navy sister ship TCG Gaziantep. The designs of both Gaziantep and Melbourne are based on the U.S. Oliver Hazard Perry class of warship.

Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul currently commands CTF-151 and is responsible for coordinating CMF counter-piracy operations with those of NATO and the EU Naval Force.

“I am delighted that HMAS Melbourne has joined CMF’s counter-piracy mission,” said Ertugrul. “Over 23,000 vessels pass through the Gulf of Aden each year. Piracy is therefore a very real threat to seafaring nations around the world and one that warrants a truly international response.”

In the past three months CTF-151 has included ships from the Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, UK and the U.S.  “Shared commitment and mutually beneficial cooperation enables us to achieve far more together than we could alone,” Ertugrul said.

“HMAS Melbourne is in the region to contribute to international efforts to provide maritime security and to reassure vessels going about their lawful business in some of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes,” said Cmdr. Michael Harris, Melbourne’s commanding officer. “We look forward to transferring the skills we have developed through maritime security operations with CTF-150 to our new counter-piracy role with CTF-151.”

CTF-151 was established in January 2009 as a multi-national counter-piracy task force. In conjunction with NATO and EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), ships from CTF-151 patrol in the Somali Basin and the IRTC in the Gulf of Aden. CTF-151 also supports the Best Management Practice methods which 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), a global maritime partnership, 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 countering terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment.