Between the 27th of April and the 4th of May 2015, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150) ships French Ship Var, Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Newcastle and Seychelles Patrol Ship (PS) Constant took part in Task Force counter-terrorism exercises in the Indian Ocean.
CTF150 has been countering terrorism in the Indian Ocean for over 10 years and made a port visit to Port Victoria, Seychelles. The crew led several interactions with Seychelles Coast Guards and HMAS Newcastle, who is currently operating in direct Support to CTF150. This visit also gave Captain Crignola, Commanding officer CTF150, (CCTF150), the opportunity to meet Seychelles authorities, as part of the regional engagement program of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) coalition.
The presence of FS Var and HMAS Newcastle in Port Victoria offered a valuable opportunity to lead several combined exercises between both navies and the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG), as part of the Task Force Maritime Security Operations training and the enhancement of interoperability between allied maritime forces. France, Australia and Seychelles are part of the Combined Maritime Forces, which is a multi-national naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 2.5 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
On the 4th of May, both Australian and French warships, and Seychelles patrol ship Constant, joined off the coast of Mahé for ship handling exercises followed by search and rescue training. The training which involved navigation and medical teams provided opportunity for sailors and coast-guards to share their knowledge and to test their ability to work well together.
CCFT150, highlighted the professionalism of this valuable training. He declared, “The success of our mission relies on close collaboration between warships, aircrafts and crews and on shared tactical procedures. The capability building activities between these three nations are a good demonstration of how partnership strengthens regional and allied cooperation and helps to address challenges that no nation is capable of tackling alone. As a matter of fact, we are all sharing the same goal: to create a lawful and stable maritime environment”
The following day, FS Var and HMAS Newcastle continued their training together and conducted a vertical replenishment at sea and boarding drills. The purpose of these evolutions was to validate the ability for the French and Australian Navies to work together by conducting a successful set of operations, in preparation for future joint maneuvers.
Navigating Officer Lieutenant Ford RAN said. “The opportunity to conduct ship handling exercises, presentations and boardings between both vessels will prove Napoleon’s adage, that the ability to be prepared for any undertaking is the process of meditating long to foresee what may occur. The exercise conducted by FS Var and HMAS Newcastle will enable both units to be better prepared for the myriad of challenges that await them as Newcastle conducts Australian Operation MANITOU Rotation 60 in support of the Combined Maritime Forces mission”.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Newcastle, Commander MacNamara said. “The contribution made by FS Var and HMAS Newcastle to the Combined Maritime Forces effort is a unifying goal. It is a mission that even in this age of highly technological warships, can only be achieved through the resilience of the men and women of the respective ship’s companies rather than the calibre of our guns. The opportunity to work so closely with our ally in promoting maritime security was an immeasurable success and Newcastle looks forward to doing so again soon”,
CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces. Task Force’s mandate is about promoting the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment by countering terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund their operations or conceal their movements. CTF 150‘s Area of Operation spans over two million square miles and includes some of the world’s most important and busiest shipping lanes, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Western Indian Ocean.