The Commanders of the ‘Big Three’ international counter-piracy task forces met in Oman recently to discuss how they can best work together to deter and defeat criminals who use the sea lanes for illegal purposes.
Commodore Tony Millar, MNZM, from the Royal New Zealand Navy and current head of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) met Commodore Aage Buur Jensen Royal Danish Navy, representing NATO Task Force 508, and Rear Admiral Guido Rando of the Italian Navy, representing the European Union’s Naval (EUNAVFOR) Task Force 465 in Muscat, Oman, on 30 September.
Commodore Millar, who has commanded CTF-151 since New Zealand assumed responsibility for the CMF counter-piracy mission in August, said:
“Piracy is an international problem that requires an international solution. The meeting with my NATO and the EUNAVFOR counterparts in Muscat aptly demonstrates our joint resolve to succeed in ridding the region of these dangerous criminals and allow merchant traffic to use these waters without hindrance or threats of violence or kidnap.”
The meeting, which took place onboard the NATO flagship, Danish warship Esbern Snare, allowed the three Commanders to discuss the latest developments in their organisations’ approach to counter-piracy operations as well as a chance to look for opportunities to work more closely together. The three Commanders then crossed to the EUNAVFOR flagship, Italian warship Andrea Doria, to witness Commander Angelo Virdis relieve Commander Gianfranco Annunziata as Commanding Officer.
Commodore Millar added:
“It is thanks to international organisations such as NATO and the EUNAVFOR, working closely with ourselves at CMF and independent deployers sent by other nations, that the threat of piracy has abated, but it has not gone away. We must not take our eye off the ball and allow these criminals to reassert themselves. Piracy remains a human tragedy. We would be failing the thirty-seven hostages who are still illegally imprisoned following acts of piracy if we forgot that.”
CTF-151 is a multinational task force which conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The aim is to deter, disrupt and prevent acts of piracy. CTF 151 operates in an area of international waters of more than 1.1 million square miles (2.5 million square kilometres), roughly the size of the Mediterranean and Red Sea combined.