The Turkish Navy handed over command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) to the Royal Bahrain Navy after conducting a change of command ceremony on Thursday.
Captain Yusuf Almannaei, Royal Bahrain Navy, assumed command of CTF 151 from Rear Adm. Emre Sezenler, Turkish Navy, at a ceremony at CMF headquarters at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. The ceremony was presided over by Vice Adm. John Aquilino, U.S. Navy, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F)/Combined Maritime Forces . The assumption of command of CTF 151 by Bahrain is an especially significant and pleasing development for CMF since it marks the first time a GCC nation has commanded a CTF outside the Arabian Gulf.
Turkey was represented at the ceremony by Her Excellency Hatun Demirer, Turkish Ambassador to Bahrain, and Rear Adm. Tayyar Ertem, Commander of Turkish Surface Action Group, while Commodore Mohammed Yusuf Al-Asam, Commander, Royal Bahrain Naval Forces, represented Bahrain.
The principal mission of CTF 151 is to deter piracy and armed robbery in the maritime environment across an area of almost 3.2 million square miles, encompassing the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea. During the next four months, the Bahraini team will continue the work to deter pirates, reassure legitimate users of the high seas and facilitate the free flow of commerce across the area of operations.
CTF 151 has worked in close coordination with the European Union’s Task Force, CTF 465, alongside independent nations, to patrol the Maritime Security Transit Corridor and regional waters, protecting shipping and deterring piracy. CTF 151 has enhanced its understanding of regional maritime activities and, on a number of occasions, provided valuable assistance to mariners in distress.
Rear Admiral Sezenler undertook an extensive key leader engagement program during his tenure, travelling nearly thirteen thousand nautical miles to Djibouti, Pakistan, Oman, Seychelles and Jordan. His meetings with 32 distinguished civilian and military key leaders strengthened relations, developed opportunities for capacity building and improved information exchange.
On handing over command, Rear Adm. Sezenler said, “In accordance with Turkey’s maritime security policy based on ‘contributions to global endeavor’, the Turkish Navy has been participating in counter-piracy operations since the very beginning.”
He added: “The key reason why we have been able to keep a ’clean sheet‘ and have not had to handle any piracy or hijacking incidents during Turkey’s command cannot be explained simply by pirates not wanting to act or being discouraged. Rather, the main driver preventing piracy is the committed naval presence by CMF and its partner forces. This is supplemented by the implementation of Best Management Practices by the commercial shipping community.”
CMF Commander, Vice Admiral John Aquilino, U.S. Navy, commented: “The collaboration and friendships built in CMF are truly an amazing example of global cooperation.”
On assuming command, Capt. Almannaei said, “The Royal Bahrain Navy, leading 10 different nations in CTF 151, is today fulfilling the vision of His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, to be an active participant in maritime security. Bahrain fully appreciates the critical importance of maintaining regional freedom of navigation and the strategic impact on global security, no matter how far this is from the Kingdom of Bahrain. This is a proud day for Bahrain.”