A Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) warship supporting CTF-151, the counter-piracy task force, engaged with local fishermen during a port visit to Salalah, Oman, this week.
In an effort to raise awareness of the CMF mission and explain how their behavior might be misinterpreted by commercial vessels passing through their fishing grounds, the Ship’s Company of Japanese Ship Harusame handed out leaflets, written in both English and Arabic, and discussed how to avoid being mistaken for pirates.
The CTF-151 area of operations includes three of the world’s six maritime chokepoints, including the busy Bab El-Mandeb strait, which are transited by hundreds of merchant vessels every week. Although piracy-related incidents have been much reduced thanks to international organisations like CMF, NATO and the EU Naval Force, as well as independent deployers from nations committed to the safety and security of the region, merchant sailors are still wary of close contact with small boats which could pose a threat, and so the number of piracy-related false alarms remain high. As such, CTF-151’s mission includes engaging with local fishermen and other legitimate users of the seas to ensure they do not provoke a misunderstanding from the merchant vessels’ onboard security teams.
Captain Masatoshi Kashihara, commander of the 20th Deployment of the Surface Force for Piracy Enforcement, explained that influencing one fisherman can ultimately lead to many more hearing CMF’s message:
“The fishermen promised us that they will provide copies of CTF-151’s leaflets to other vessels which are conducting fishing activities in the Gulf of Aden after they go back to their home waters. The interest in our activity was great this time, so we will conduct this kind of engagement at the next opportunity we have alongside during another port visit.”
Rear Admiral Pakorn Wanich from the Royal Thai Navy and current Commander of CTF-151 said:
“In line with our engagement plan, the crew of JS Harusame conducted great activity during her port visit, influencing local fishermen’s behaviour in order to decrease false alarms in the Gulf of Aden and particularly in the Bab El-Mandeb strait. I’d like to thank JS Harusame for their effective engagement and look forward to seeing more activity in the future.”