Commodore Brian Santarpia of the Royal Canadian Navy has assumed command of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-terrorism Task Force from Commodore Sajid Mahmood SI(M), Pakistan Navy, at a ceremony in Bahrain on 4 December 2014. The ceremony marked Canada’s second command of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).
In a scale not seen before in CMF, Canada, which has deployed 24 staff to Bahrain, is sharing command of CTF-150 with Australia, who will provide the Chief of Staff and 6 other key staff to ensure a truly joint headquarters staff.
Commodore Sajid, who has led CTF-150 since 14 August 2014, said:
“All praises be to God Almighty, enabling me to shoulder this responsibility with honour, pride, dignity and self-satisfaction. My staff and I, representing the Pakistan Navy, feel proud for having contributed wholeheartedly and to the best of our abilities towards maritime security and stability in an enormously vast and important area in this region.”
Looking back on the achievements of the team, he added:
“Four months ago, when I assumed command of CTF-150, I was mindful of the fact that it was a unique opportunity afforded to the Pakistan Navy, and to me personally, to work again with CMF in support of the noble cause of safety and security at sea. Today as l look back on my tenure in command, I have no hesitation to say that it was a most professionally rewarding and productive experience, and every single day brought new challenges.”
In closing, he pointed out:
“I would be failing in my duties if I did not acknowledge the support and cooperation of partners who provided the ships and support without which I could not have functioned effectively. It was a pleasure to command some of the finest units that the navies of Australia, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and, of course, Pakistan had to offer. I am also grateful for the commanders of CTF-151, CTF-152, the US Task Force commanders and the UK Maritime Component Command for their cooperation and invaluable support throughout my tenure. My last words of thanks are reserved for my staff for their dedication, professionalism, sustained efforts and for bearing with me during this auspicious tour of duty.”
Vice Admiral John W Miller, the CMF Commander, presided over the handover. He noted the achievements of CTF-150 under Commodore Sajid’s leadership and said:
“Commodore Sajid’s mastery at the helm was no more obvious than during Focused Operation Taawun al Behr. The exercise, held in rough seas in the Gulf of Aden, involved small boat interdiction drills, search and rescue at sea, helicopter operations, and ship maneouvers. The exercise, aimed at increasing cooperation with international partners, went flawlessly. Also, under his extraordinary leadership, the task force has conducted 4 highly successful drug busts, with one occurring just last week, seizing 5,588 kilograms of hashish and 1,036 kilograms of heroin.”
Vice Admiral Miller also noted he was very much looking forward to working with Commodore Santarpia, the incoming Commander of CTF-150. He said:
“With the expanse of hands-on experience that you bring to the task force, I have no doubt of continued accomplishments that will take place during your command. I know you are ready and more than able for the challenges ahead. We wish you and your team a warm welcome to Bahrain and the Combined Maritime Forces family. You are going to love it here.”
Commodore Santarpia thanked Commodore Sajid for his commitment in providing a seamless and orderly transition and noted how important the work of CTF-150 is in denying international terrorists the use of the seas to exploit or attack those using the seas for legitimate purposes or to illegally transfer people, weapons, or other illicit material.
“I would like to thank CMF for the warm welcome and support in our preparations since our arrival, and the Pakistan Navy for their excellent handover. Any success that we may achieve will only be possible because of the solid framework established by our predecessors and their remarkable achievements. My team and I are now ready to rise to the challenge and hope to be worthy of the high standards you have set.”
“We look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with all contributing nations and regional partners over the next four months as we will build upon the achievements of previous commands and continue promoting international peace and security in some of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes and waterways.”