Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), the counter-terrorism and maritime security element of the Combined Maritime Force (CMF), launched a focused operation in the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden 1-5 December 2012.
The assembled CTF150 commanded by CDRE Bob Tarrant RN included warships and associated support from international as well as regional countries including United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan, USA, Yemen and Djibouti. The primary focus of this operation was to detect and disrupt terrorist related use of the maritime environment, whilst also providing an opportunity for the Djiboutian Navy and Coast Guard to participate in collaborative planning and operate as a fully integrated partner in a combined maritime force.
Within the area of operations is the Bab el-Mandeb strait (BAM) which is only 11 miles wide at its narrowest point. The security of this chokepoint is vital to regional prosperity and the global economy. A terrorist attack here could cause serious disruption to that vital flow of commerce and the operation served to mitigate this threat.
To best exploit the opportunities presented by this operation, officers from both the Djibouti and Yemen Navies and Coast Guards worked onboard CTF 150 warships. Known as Sea Riders, these officers have specialist knowledge and understand the patterns of life of the local traders and fishermen who operate legitimately in the area.
During the operation HMCS Regina (Canada) operated in the Southern Red Sea with Yemeni Sea Riders embarked and HMAS Anzac (Australia) was in the Gulf of Aden with Djiboutian Navy and Coast Guard personnel onboard. Also in support of the operation in the Gulf of Aden were Djiboutian patrol craft, PNS Shamsheer (Pakistan) and FS Dupleix (France).
The operation was deemed a success with a level of interaction, coordination and cooperation never before achieved, Lieutenant Ali Bouh, Operations Officer of the Djibouti Navy, said: “Operation Wenlock is allowing Djiboutian and Coalition forces to present a united front against illegal activity in our goal to effectively stamp out illegal maritime activity in the region. This cooperation will make the area safer for shipping from all around the world.
Commodore Tarrant said: “Operation WENLOCK provided a unique opportunity for CMF members and our regional partners, such as Djibouti and Yemen, to work together to build on our understanding of the patterns of life and to safeguard the legitimate maritime traffic that transits through the area.”
He continued: “Only through working together in the future will we be able to detect and disrupt those who wish to use the sea for illicit purposes and I was delighted to have been able to lead this operation.”