Canada hands over to France at the CTF150 Change of Command Ceremony

The French Navy (Marine Nationale), supported by the UK Royal Navy (RN), has assumed command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) after conducting a handover ceremony with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). CTF150’s principal mission is to disrupt terrorist organisations and their unlawful activities by restricting freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain.

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Image: Cdre Edmundson (left), VADM Donegan (centre), and RADM Lebas(right) conducting the handover of CTF150.

Rear Admiral (RADM) Olivier Lebas of the French Navy assumed command of CTF150 from Commodore Haydn Edmundson of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) on 13th April 2017 in a ceremony held at Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain.

CTF150 has been combating terrorism by tackling the narcotics trafficking at sea that is suspected of funding terrorist activities. Notable highlights have included the HMAS Auranta seizure on 2nd March where 800 kg of hashish was found and two seizures by USS Laboon on 13th and 17th March yielding 500kg of hashish and 270kg of heroin respectively. Of particular importance was the seizure of heroin, the first such seizure in nearly a year. In total, CTF150 Seized 1342 kg hashish, 1 kg opium and 270 kg of heroin. Concurrently, CTF150 also restricts the use of the seas to conduct maritime attacks, human trafficking, and transportation of illegal weapons.

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Image: Incoming French led and UK supported CTF150 team.

A key focus of the Canadian-led CTF150, beyond operations, was improving communication, coordination and collaboration between the three Task Forces within CMF. This was significantly enhanced by Canada introducing an information sharing downlink known as URSA (Unclassified Remote-sensing  Situational Awareness system). CTF150 also planned and executed Cutlass Express 2017 on behalf of CMF, which included mentor and training teams in Djibouti, Kenya, and Madagascar, as well as Public Affairs training and Senior Leader Seminars in Mauritius. Key Leader Engagements (KLEs) were conducted with well-established CMF partners such as Pakistan and the Kingdom of Suadi Arabia, as well as emerging partners such as Tanzania and Kenya.

Handing over command, Commodore Edmundson said: “It has been my honour to lead this outstanding group of professionals who worked diligently in achieving the CMF mission.

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Image: Outgoing Canadian led, Australian supported CTF150 team.

“This Canadian-Australia alliance continues to demonstrate our shared values and commitment to maritime security across the globe. Canada and Australia should be proud of the outstanding achievements of their deployed personnel.”

On assuming command, RADM Lebas acknowledged the successes of Commodore Edmundson’s team, he  said: “We look forward to building on the outstanding achievement of Commodore Edmundson and his staff, and working alongside our CMF partners to promote security and stability throughout this area.”

Under a French lead, this will be the first combined French-UK command of CTF150 which operationalises French-UK naval co-operation under the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF). This framework was initiated in 2010 under the Lancaster House Agreement between London and Paris.

About Combined Maritime Forces

CMF is a unique multi-national collective of 31 like-minded nations, dedicated to promoting security and free flow of commerce across 3.2 million square miles of international waters in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf. CMF’s main focus areas are disrupting terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment for all.
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