Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and EU NAVFOR Task Forces have conducted recent exercises off the coast of Yemen, in the Gulf of Aden, as part of ongoing cooperation and partnership work in the region.

CMF’s Task Force CTF150 has a mandate to deny the free use of the high seas to networks supporting terrorism in the wider Indian Ocean; EU NAVFOR’s CTF465 has a mandate (since 2008) to conduct counter piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. Although they have a different focus and aim, both missions complement each other as they work to ensure the free passage of maritime trade.

During the exercises the French Ship FS Jean Bart (CTF150) and Spanish Ships ESPS Rayo (CTF465) presented ‘Replenishment at Sea’ (RAS) drills to each other. These are important tasks which allow CMF ships to remain at sea for extended periods. Later, communication drills were conducted with the Japanese Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA), Japan 41, using semaphore flashings lights, electronic data links and voice commands on radio systems. MPRA add significantly to CMF’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance across the region.

Captain Roussel, commanding officer of FS Jean Bart said: “Such an exercise witnesses the ability of different task forces to support each other in executing security operations that are common to all task forces.” This demonstration of cooperation at sea follows the recent SHADE conference held in Bahrain with international maritime representatives discussing the ongoing counter piracy work in the region.