Commodore Ali Abbas of the Pakistan Navy has taken command of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-piracy operations in the Middle East at a handover ceremony with Commodore Aage Buur Jensen, Commander Danish Task Group, held on 27 February 2014 in Bahrain.
Commodore Jensen said: “It has been an honour and a privilege once again being in command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, a respected contributor to counter piracy operations. This multinational partnership is the core strength of CMF. Within my tenure we have once again seen others turning to CMF and CTF 151 when the unexpected happened. The CMF structure in itself allows us to think out of the box and that makes us able to deal with the unexpected with a steady hand.”
He noted that the coordinated effort of naval forces, together with that of merchant vessels, is making piracy less predictable and less attractive but added: “We need to stay vigilant as the criminal kingpins are just moving their business into other activities such as smuggling of drugs and charcoal; having the same sad effect of destabilizing Somalia – and possibly with spill over to surrounding countries.”
The handover ceremony was overseen by Vice Admiral John Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces. He noted the continuing success of CTF 151 under Commodore Jensen’s leadership: “In your tenure, there have been no successful pirate attacks in the AOR. By coordinating your efforts with the other task forces and independent counter piracy deployers, you have continued to keep the sea lanes safe from piracy.”
He added “I am particularly appreciative of the effort across the board in the CMF to make the integration of the Japanese units into the CMF family as seamless as possible. I want to thank you for traveling to Djibouti twice in order to personally meet the Japanese commanders and crews and to make sure they had all the information and support they needed.”
Vice Admiral Miller also noted the ongoing significant contribution made by Pakistan to the CMF: “Pakistan has been a key partner in CMF… with a front row seat to nearly every aspect of coalition operations, leading CTFs, providing ships and aircraft, and manning critical staff billets. Pakistan is a stalwart supporter to CMF operations. This will be the fifth time CTF 151 is commanded by a Pakistan Navy officer.”
Commodore Abbas stated: “My team and I will endeavour to make optimum use of available resources to deny space to the pirates and will work relentlessly in cooperation with regional partners for freedom of navigation and the shared goal of stability in the region.”
He added: “The Pakistan Navy remains committed to its role in maintaining regional stability and ensuring a secure environment for the uninterrupted flow of vital energy supplies to the world while safeguarding the maritime interests of the international community.”
CTF 151’s mission is to deter, disrupt and thwart acts of piracy and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve capabilities to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation. It is a multinational maritime task force that conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
CTF 151 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces, a 30 nation maritime partnership headquartered in Bahrain. CTF 150 conducts maritime security operations mainly in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities. CTF 152 is focused on security cooperation activities with regional partners inside the central Gulf region.