The Pakistan Navy has assumed command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) from the Royal Navy at a change of command ceremony held in Bahrain on 14 August 2014.
Commodore Sajid Mahmood Pakistan Navy assumed command of CTF-150 from Commodore Jeremy Blunden Royal Navy. This completed the UK’s seventh command of CTF-150 and commenced the seventh for Pakistan.
Commodore Blunden highlighted the successes of his team and the multi-national ships contributing to CTF-150. These include a record heroin seizure of 1,032 kilograms and a combined interdiction of over 6,000 kgs of hash by five ships conducting 30 boardings.
Commodore Blunden said: “It has been a great honour and privilege for me to command CMF task forces twice and to work in this unique multinational forum. I want to express my sincere thanks to my team for their help, their support and for the excellent work they have done. My thanks also go to the staff in CMF and the various task forces who have provided us with such friendship and strong support.”
He added: “After several years’ knowledge of CMF activity and it effectiveness, it is my view that CMF is achieving more now than at any other stage in its history. I am very much a fan of the CMF construct, of this unique maritime partnership, this collective contribution of ready, capable maritime forces and this commitment to help provide security and stability in the maritime environment.”
The handover ceremony was overseen by Vice Admiral John Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces who, in his comments, noted CTF-150’s recent successes.
He said: “Commodore Blunden, under your leadership Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Darwin emerged as CTF-150’s star player, setting a United Nations record for the largest seizure of heroin at sea in the Indian Ocean. During her deployment, the ship had a record six seizures — successfully destroying about 1,700 kilograms of heroin and more than 10,500 kilograms of hash — all worth more than $770 million (USD) in street value. That’s extraordinary.”
Vice Admiral Miller also noted the significant contribution Pakistan has made to CMF. He said: “Simply put, I cannot imagine the Combined Maritime Forces without the outstanding contributions across the spectrum from Pakistan. Having a country with such extensive knowledge and regional experience at the helm, can only be a good thing.”
In his address, Commodore Mahmood acknowledged the accomplishments of Commodore Blunden and his team. He said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Commodore Blunden and his team for the exceptional performance and successful completion of CTF-150 Command tenure.”
He added: “It is a great privilege to assume command of CTF-150 today, the 67th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence, providing an additional honour on this memorable day.”