Commodore Sajid Mahmood of the Pakistani Navy, commander of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), visited the US Navy’s Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush (CVN-77) recently.
Commodore Mahmood assumed command of CTF-150 on 14 August 2014. CTF-150 is responsible for conducting maritime security and interdiction operations to deter terrorism and promote peace and security in the maritime regions of the Middle East and Indian Ocean. The seventh Pakistani officer to command the task group, Commodore Mahmood is an experienced naval officer, having commanded a destroyer, auxiliary ship and mine warfare squadron, as well as serving as the Pakistani Navy’s liaison officer at the US Central Command HQ in Tampa, Florida.
The Commodore was accompanied by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Bahrain, His Excellency Mr Saeed Ahmed Khan, High Office Commissioner Mr Ahad, Counsellor Mr Maqsood and three CTF-150 staff officers.
The visit provided greater insight into the carrier’s current tasking in the Arabian Gulf and the chance to experience first-hand the complex operations aboard an aircraft carrier. It was also an excellent occasion for the recently appointed Commander of CTF-150 to discuss joint operations with a key Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) partner.
Upon their arrival aboard the carrier, the visiting dignitaries were greeted by Rear Admiral De Wolfe Miller III, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, and the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Andrew J Loiselle.
The nuclear-powered Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever built. With nearly 6,000 personnel (crew and aircrew), each carrier has a displacement of 102,000 tonnes and a flight deck length of 332.9m.
Following a guided tour of the ship, the visiting dignitaries observed a full range of flight operations including E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, Prowler Electronic Countermeasures aircraft and F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter aircraft.
The group experienced both the arrested landing and the catapult assisted take-off of a C-2 Greyhound logistics aircraft. These highly complex and sophisticated exercises, unique to this class of vessel, are fundamental to understanding the ship’s broader strategic role.
The trip was not only of benefit for the distinguished visitors, it also provided, Lt Ali Qaswa PN, one of the CTF-150 Battle Watch Officers, the opportunity to remain aboard for five days to better develop his understanding of the carrier operations.
He said: “The visit to CVN-77 was undoubtedly a unique and most exhilarating experience of my life which will surely extend my operational thinking beyond destroyers and frigates.”
Of the visit, Commodore Mahmood, stated: “The resolve shown by Pakistan, the US and other CMF partners in combating terrorism and supporting regional states in their efforts is key to maintain a safe and secure maritime environment for all seafarers. I look forward to continuing to further develop this relationship and improving how we work together.”
In this role as the Commander of CTF-150, Commodore Mahmood will have a number of ships from various nations under his command. He said: “The vast eastern Gulf and the Indian Ocean offers an attractive space for criminals to misuse the sea to smuggle drugs, weapons and even people. Attractive, that is, until they come up against the warships and crews from CTF-150.”