TCG Gaziantep, flagship of CMF's counter-piracy mission recently visited Salalah, a major port on the Gulf of Oman. (Photo: CMF).

Turkish warship TCG Gaziantep left Salalah today following a brief port visit that will lead her into the final stage of her current counter-piracy deployment.

The 4,100 ton frigate serves as the flagship of Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul, commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, a multi-national counter-piracy mission operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

The visit provided an opportunity to replenish stores and a short, but well deserved rest for the ship’s company and command staff which, in addition to Turkey, also includes officers from Canada, the UK and U.S.

Over the last few months, Ertugrul has commanded ships and coordinated aircraft from a diverse range of nations, including Australia, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, the UK and U.S.

Their mission is not only to disrupt pirate attacks and reassure merchant shipping, but also to strengthen regional partnerships, in order to build international resolve to prevent and deter such attacks from occurring in the future.

The ship had a busy couple of weeks in the Somali Basin and Indian Ocean during which she also visited Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and Port Victoria, Seychelles.

Ertugrul has commanded CTF 151 since the beginning of September, which included coordinating counter-piracy operations of other international naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden, Horn of Africa and Somali Basin. Later this month, command of CTF 151 will pass to the Pakistan Navy.

“Our visit to Salalah was an excellent opportunity for my staff to prepare themselves for the final stage of our deployment,” Ertugrul said. “Although the end of our deployment is in sight, we will be maintaining the pressure on the pirates until the very last moment and İ am determined to provide the best possible handover to the Pakistan Navy.”

Ertugral added that “the pirates should know that although our ships and personnel may rotate, our commitment to meeting the challenge of piracy is unwavering. We are here to stay as long as piracy and maritime crime threaten the freedom and safety of civilian shipping in these international waters.”

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 Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (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 CMF, a global maritime partnership, dedicated to promoting security and prosperity across some 2.5 million square miles (6.5 square kilometers) 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.