Commander Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) Rear Admiral (RDML) Oğuz Karaman of the Turkish Navy met with his NATO Combined Task Force 508 (CTF 508) counterpart Commodore Ben Bekkering for the first time, during his visit to NATO flagship HNLMS Rotterdam on 16 November 2012.
Tight patrolling schedules had prevented the pair from meeting until the final month of their Command periods, but it was a visit that reinforced the importance of their presence in countering piracy and gave both sides the opportunity to discuss key aspects of their respective missions. RDML Karaman said:
“CTF 151 has the primary focus of deterring pirates and ensuring the safety of the sea lanes for merchant vessels and legitimate fishermen, so the invitation to visit CCTF 508 and discuss maritime matters in reactions to counter-piracy was one we eagerly accepted.”
In-depth discussions on the current levels of piracy in the region including the situation in Somalia and the benefits of independent deployers and ISR capabilities were held during the visit. Commodore Bekkering led the group on a tour of the medical capability facilities, located on a Landing Craft Unit which is indigenous to Rotterdam, just offshore from Somalia RDML Karaman continued:
“I was very impressed by the landing craft, medical capability and overall by the capacity for operations by the HNLMS Rotterdam. During our visit we experienced a suspicious event in the area which required assets from both Task Groups to respond and it was great to see us working collaboratively in the tactical sense.”
“There is no doubt that by working together with Task Forces such as NATO we will make far greater strides in eliminating acts of piracy. Our joint counter-piracy efforts are more effective together than working in isolation, and this visit has reaffirmed the closeness of our working relationship.”
Effective patrols in the region require coordination, and opportunities to meet in person only enhance these mechanisms. Commander NATO Task Force 508 Commodore Ben Bekkering said:
“Nothing beats face to face meetings. You meet your counterparts, you discuss topics and exchange information. All this is necessary to achieve results.”
CCTF 151 was joined by three of his staff members, Commander Henk Warnar of Future Operations, Lieutenant Commander Guray Çerman of Current Operations and the CTF 151 Legal Advisor Lieutenant Adrianne Mittelstaedt.