The Commander of a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task group fighting piracy in the Northern Indian Ocean has met with his Japanese counterpart to coordinate future operations between the two forces.
On July 14, 2013, Commander, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, Commodore Muhammad Ihsan Qadir, Pakistan Navy, met with the Commander of Escort Division Six, Captain Tsutomu Iwasawa of the Japanese Navy aboard CTF 151’s flagship, TCG Goksu, whilst alongside in Djibouti.
CTF 151 and Escort Division Six are both dedicated to deterring and defeating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the surrounding region.
Although Escort Division Six primarily focuses on conducting convoy operations through the internationally recommended transit corridor (IRTC), when piracy-related activity is reported the Japanese forces assist the counter-piracy task forces in the area – including CTF 151 – with their operations.
As a case in point, the Japanese provided helicopter air support to CTF 151 while TCG Goksu investigated a potential piracy-related incident in June.
The meeting allowed the two commanders and their senior officers to discuss the current piracy situation and how they can ultimately put an end to piracy in the region.
During the meeting, the Japanese expressed a desire to more closely coordinate with CTF and the other counter-piracy task forces. That sentiment pleased Commodore Qadir and he encouraged the Japanese to increase their involvement with the CMF units operating in the area.
“Any additional support that the Japanese could provide CMF would be a significant development. The Japanese have experience operating in the CMF area of operations and are a proficient naval force that will be a great asset to CMF,” the Commodore stated following the meeting.
One unique aspect of the Japanese counter-piracy operation is the presence of a team of Japan Coast Guard personnel onboard their escort vessels. Captain Iwasawa explained that the Japan Coast Guard is responsible for investigating and, if necessary, arresting suspected pirates.
The coast guard personnel specialize in evidence collection and conducting interviews. Thus, they play an important role in the potential prosecution of any suspected pirates.
While the commanders and senior officers were meeting, some of the staff members and crewmembers also met in the TCG Goksu wardroom. The staff meeting focused on missions of the different groups and how they can best complement each other’s counter-piracy efforts.
Following this staff meeting, the Dutch Navy’s Commander Onno Boshouwers, CTF 151’s Planning Officer, stated: “CTF 151 and the Japanese Escort Division share a common purpose—defeating piracy in this area.
“This meeting was very productive and will lead to greater coordination between the counter-piracy forces.”