After a successful tenure in command of the Combined Maritime Forces(CMF)’s counter-terrorism task force, the French Marine Nationale has handed over the helm of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 to the Pakistani Navy.
Captain Hervé Blejean and his relief, Commodore Asif Khaliq, exchanged salutes and a ceremonial telescope symbolising command of the Task Force during a ceremony at CMF’s headquarters in Bahrain.
During their four-month tour of duty, warships under Capt Blejean and his team intercepted more than US$340 millions’ worth of illicit narcotics, including one shipment containing 850 kg of heroin, and another in which almost six tonees of hashish was seized.
Speaking at the ceremony, Capt Blejean said: “This was the eighth time that France has led this task force at sea and it is clear that France has had a powerful and far-reaching effect on the maritime domain. We had an exceptionnally rewarding four months on board FS Somme.
“We should not underestimate the role CTF 150 is playing to defeat terrorist activity on the high seas. Coalition forces are the way forward. CTF 150 is unique and necessary and it needs to exist in the future in order to continue the efforts which have been made to promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.”
The ceremony was presided over by guest of honour Vice Admiral John Miller, USN, Commander of CMF. In a speech to the assembled crowd, he thanked Capt Blejean and wished Cdre Asif all the best for his time in Command.
He said: “France’s contributions to CMF represent their professionalism, dedication and commitment to the cause.
“I’d like to highlight France’s time in command, encompassing their major accomplishments both under Capt Jean-Michel Martinet, and by Capt Blejean.
“I thank you for your service, and it has been an honour and a pleasure to serve with you.”
He then told the audience: “The Pakistani Navy has been a key partner from the very beginnings of CMF.
“Thare one of our most active partners in the organisation, and have led more CTFs than any other nation besides the US, UK and Australia.
“I am confident that CTF 150 will continue to flourish as Commodore Khaliq takes Command, his leadership marking the sixth time that the Pakistani Navy has taken charge of this Task Force.”
Upon assuming charge of the Task Force, Commodore Asif was quick to praise his team and his predecessors. “Command of CTF 150 for the sixth time is a manifestation of Pakistan Navy’s continued commitment to support coalition efforts to maintain regional maritime safety and security,” he said.
My team is well prepared for this role and ready to take up the fine work undertaken by our predecessors.”