Two United States Navy patrol boats based in Bahrain have completed their first deployment with Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-terrorism and maritime security task force.
For most of January and February, USS Firebolt and USS Thunderbolt operated in direct support to CTF-150, ensuring security, safety and freedom of navigation for commercial shipping in international waters, building positive relations with local fishermen and merchants, and helping to develop a better understanding of the maritime environment in the region.
Commodore Brian Santarpia from the Royal Canadian Navy and current Commander of CTF-150 said:
“US Navy patrol boats have proven to be versatile ships for the type of operations we conduct in the Gulf of Oman and North Arabian Sea. The crews offered outstanding support throughout their deployment, operating day and night, being responsive to changing situations. They definitively have the capability and the motivation that we need to support counter-terrorism operations. They have been integrating well with our larger warships and aircraft and I am looking forward to working with these ships and crews in the weeks to come.”
Commodore Tom Shultz from the US Navy is the Commander of Patrol Coastal Squadron One. He said:
“Now that there are 10 patrol craft home-ported in Bahrain, with permanent crews, and permanent squadron support, you’re seeing the full capability of these ships in the US Fifth Fleet. That’s specifically highlighted as they’ve expanded from just supporting our own patrol craft squadron and CMF’s Gulf security task force, CTF-152, to now pushing out and supporting CTF-150 maritime security and counter-terrorism operations.”
“It just shows you the versatility and capability of these ships and crews. You can have two or three patrol boats on station covering a larger area than a single warship could, working together and coordinating efforts to give a higher chance of success of deterring criminals from trafficking weapons, people and illicit narcotics, profits from which are known to fund terrorist organisations.”
CTF-150’s mandate is to promote security and stability at sea by countering terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements. CTF-150’s current operations are aimed at concentrating units in known smuggling routes so that ships and aircraft from contributing nations such as Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States can monitor, track, approach and interdict suspicious vessels.
According to Commodore Shultz, the sailors on the patrol craft really enjoy operating under CTF-150:
“It’s a slightly different skillset and a different operating environment, so it’s pushed them to get better all around. The crews being smaller than a regular vessel, everyone gets to be a part of everything.”
During their deployment, the crews of USS Firebolt and USS Thunderbolt also had an opportunity to discover new ports, including Fujairah and Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates as well as to Wudam in Oman.