Commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) Commodore Aage Buur Jensen, currently embarked with the USS Halsey, visited the Russian Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Tributs on Feb. 19 Jensen met with his counterpart in the Russian Task Force, Commander Captain Ildar Ahmerov. RFS Admiral Tributs is currently the flagship of the Russian Task Force in the Gulf of Aden, which also comprises the tanker Pechenga and an ocean- going tug vessel in support. The meeting at sea reunited the two Task Force Commanders following their initial meeting at an Anti-Piracy Seminar held in Copenhagen in 2011 in preparation for their current mission.
Some of the goals of the meeting were to establish better communications between the two ships when dealing with counter piracy operations.
“We discussed how we could better communicate and support each other while operating on the same seas,” said Lt. Mark Gallagher, operations officer aboard Halsey. “This will help both navies improve operations and support for the maritime mission.”
The two Senior Officers exchanged operational experiences and discussed the possibility for further cooperation on counter piracy operations in the region. The Russian Navy’s role is primarily escorting convoys of merchant vessels through the piracy risk areas in the Gulf of Aden, between the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea.
Following an agreement by the Russian Navy, the Commanders cooperated in ensuring the responsibility of the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden was patrolled by the Russian Task Force, providing much appreciated assistance and maritime security military presence in the vital transit route. The ongoing cooperation was confirmed at the personal meeting while the Russians stated that they are ready and willing to support international efforts when they are available outside of their regular escort duties.
After the rendezvous, Commodore Jensen said, “This is another step in the right direction when it comes to improving the safety of shipping in the Gulf of Aden. I have great confidence that our cooperation with the Russian Task Force can be expanded in the near future”
Resupply of the CTF-151 flagship USS Halsey, also known in naval terms as a “Replenishment at Sea” (RAS) was conducted after the meeting by the U.S. supply ship Guadalupe. During this operation the Russian destroyer had the opportunity to train in replenishment activity with approaches to the supply ship.
The level of cooperation and coordination in the Counter Piracy mission has steadily increased in the international community through various forums, including the SHADE (Shared Awareness and Deconfliction) meetings hosted regularly by Combined Maritime Forces in Bahrain and where CMF partners, EUNAVFOR and NATO Forces, plus independently deployed maritime forces and the merchant shipping community share their experience and knowledge and coordinate their activity.