On 21 December 2015 command of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) passed from the Turkish Navy under the command of Rear Admiral Ayhan Bay to Commodore Zahid Ilyas SI(M) S Bt of the Pakistan Navy.
Rear Admiral Bay, who has led CTF 151 since 27 August 2015, thanked his staff and the Combined Maritime Force for their support, and said: “As you know Turkey supported this multinational task force from the very beginning and will continue to contribute to international operations in the concept of `peace at home, peace in the world` principle declared by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,”
“In this regard, we should all be mindful of the fact that this is still an international and multi- dimensional problem and requires a multinational, multifaceted solution. Besides the security aspect, piracy has social, economic and political aspects and cannot be solved permanently by only adapting military counter measures.”
Rear Admiral Bay will return to Turkey and his new role as Commander of the Northern Task Group.
Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan, Commander Combined Maritime Forces, presided over the handover ceremony and noting the achievements of CTF 151, said: “Rear Admiral Bay, your accomplishments are numerous and impressive. The hard work of the ships and sailors under your Command has made it possible to keep the waters of the Gulf of Aden safer than they have been in decades. There have been no attacks in your tenure, maintaining a proud record of forward-leaning prevention that benefits everyone in the region.”
Vice Admiral Donegan then went on to highlight Commodore Ilyas’ career and welcomed him to the Combined Maritime Forces family. During his naval career the Commodore has commanded two Pakistan Navy destroyers, PNS Babur and PNS Zulfiquar. His most recent appointment was as the Commanding Officer of the Pakistan Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 18.
This is the seventh time that Pakistan has led CTF 151. Commodore Ilyas said on taking Command: “As Commander of CTF 151, I intend engaging with regional leaders and the mercantile community to promote CMF resolve with respect to participation in counter piracy operations and information sharing to suppress piracy in the region. We are passing through uncertain and unpredictable times, where diverse threats are posed to the seagoing community on the high seas. Of these, piracy, although low at the moment, continues to present an intricate and extraordinary threat and still impacts on security, freedom of navigation and global security and stability,”
“But no one nation alone can resolve this menace. Piracy is a shared challenge which can only be addressed through collaborative and comprehensive international efforts. During my command, I shall continue to deter and disrupt piracy while maintaining a flexible approach in coordination with CMF.”
CTF 151’s mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.