Warships, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft from New Zealand, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States have joined forces during Operation ‘Eureka’, a Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) counter-terrorism operation conducted in late February in the Northern Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman.
Similar to previous CTF-150 operations, Operation Eureka demonstrated the international resolve to deter and disrupt terrorist organisations from using the seas to move illicit goods, including narcotics, weapons and charcoal, to fund their activities. This operation, which surged resources into a specific area, was aimed at maintaining a heightened Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) presence in this important region, keeping shipping lanes open for commercial traffic and those using the seas for legal purposes.
“A heightened presence of warships in an area contributes to the disruption of terrorist-related activity at sea,” commented Commodore Brian Santarpia from the Royal Canadian Navy and Commander CTF-150. He added: “It also ensures security, safety and freedom of movement for commercial shipping in international waters, thereby promoting greater confidence in the maritime community to safely navigate in a region which includes three of the world’s six maritime chokepoints.”
The participating warships were the US Navy patrol boats Sirocco and Chinook, the US destroyer Dewey and the Pakistani frigate Tariq. Sirocco and Chinook’s participation in Operation Eureka was the second time that ships from Patrol Coastal Squadron ONE have supported CTF-150 this year, with their sister ships USS Firebolt and USS Thunderbolt operating with the Canadian-led Task Force for five weeks earlier in January and February.
Commander Tom Shultz, the Commander of Patrol Coastal Squadron ONE, noted: “The sailors on the patrol craft really enjoy the new missions they’re conducting with CTF 150. It’s a slightly different skillset and a different operating environment, so it’s pushed them to get better all around. And a unique side of patrol craft duty is everyone gets to be a part of it.”
For USS Sirocco’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Travis Montplaisir, there was a unique advantage provided by the patrol craft when operating with CTF-150: “Patrol craft have the flexibility to move quickly to new locations and rapidly execute boarding operations. Additionally, with our small size and high manoeuvrability, we can close contacts relatively quickly to have a close look at any suspicious vessels.”
For the destroyer USS Dewey, this period of time supporting CTF-150 was the third in three months: “This assignment with CMF has once again been an exceptionally rewarding experience,” commented Commander Mikael A Rockstad, the ship’s Commanding Officer. “It is good to know that our combined efforts have helped to strengthen regional maritime security, and Dewey is glad to have had the opportunity to work with CTF-150 again.”
As well as warships, the United Kingdom and New Zealand provided maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, capturing imagery of potentially suspicious activities on the high seas from the air and transmitting this information ashore for analysis.