Mid-June 2015 saw Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 coordinate ships involved in maritime security operations to provide help to mariners in need in the Gulf of Aden.
In the afternoon of June 15, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) received a request for assistance from German catamaran crew members, who were sailing the Vessel Tukan inside the Gulf of Aden, off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia.
Three crew members were apparently exhausted and their catamaran running out of fuel. Some sails were torn and some pieces of their yacht were broken, making it difficult to navigate. The catamaran, called “Tukan”, had left from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, some weeks ago with the aim of reaching Mayotte, a French Island in the Comoros archipelago. However, they faced hard sea state conditions and unfavourable winds due to the Summer monsoon, a climatic phenomenon which takes place around the Indian Ocean.
While several warships from CTF-150, one of the three forces composing the CMF coalition, were patrolling in the area, Capt. Crignola, Commander of CTF-150 (CCTF-150) decided to coordinate their action in the aim to provide help to the mariners in need. The involved units were United States Ship (USS) Forest Sherman, and French Ship (FS) Var, CTF-150 flag ship.
As a matter of fact, CTF-150 units are often the “first responders” in case of emergency events at sea. Missions such as Search and Rescue operations, assistance to mariners in distress and to the maritime community, are fully part of CTF-150 maritime security operations, to promote security, stability and prosperity across the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. CTF-150 is an alert force, and its units must always be ready to act, when requested, to respond to events at sea, including environmental and humanitarian crises.
The catamaran was pinpointed by USS Forest Sherman helicopter, which was sailing 30 nautical miles from the US destroyer. After being detected, US crew members were transferred by Rhib to the Tukan to assess the situation and provide emergency supplies to the crew. Water, food and around 200 litres of fuel were delivered during this meeting at sea, before USS Forest Sherman carried on with her patrol.
After further alterations to CTF150’s ships movements, FS Var was on hand to conduct further repairs, and administer medical care. In all, the rudder was fixed and another 400 litres of fuel and 10 days supply of food were given to the Tukan so they could safely make their way to Djibouti to undertake proper repairs.
While conducting operations under CMF, the ships and their helicopters are involved in searching, identifying, approaching and boarding suspicious vessels. CMF vessels regularly find themselves assisting mariners in distress and providing assistance in these extremely busy waterways.
CTF 150’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.