TODAY, Counter Piracy Focused Operation Hamad commenced. Although this first day of Operation Hamad is important as a milestone, all of those units and organisations involved in counter piracy operations know that the effort to keep piracy suppressed is a marathon and not a sprint. There is an understanding that the most important achievements of Hamad, apart from showing a strong physical presence, are likely to be the improved coordination achieved between counter piracy organisations, a better understanding of the patterns of life in relation to merchant vessel movement and the strengthening of personal and professional relationships of those who carry out the tactical operations in the very large area of interest.
Long before Operation Hamad commenced, careful planning was undertaken to ensure that the best use of limited resources could be achieved and that maximum participation would be realised. This planning also involved tapping into non-military resources, as the ownership of counter piracy as an ever present threat in the region will undoubtedly be best combated through a range of means, complemented by and not just addressed through a purely military solution. Engagement in the region prior to Operation Hamad commencing was targeted towards this outcome.
During January 2018, Commodore Yusuf Al-Mannaie, Royal Bahrain Navy, Commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151), conducted engagements with Gulf Cooperation Countries, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Oman. During these engagements an update on counter piracy operations was provided and invitations were extended for participation in Operation Hamad. These invitations were met with willingness. Oman agreed to provide direct support through the assignment of a unit to contribute to Hamad and is expected to be achieved.. The ability to bring Oman into Hamad, showcases the unique ability of the Bahrain led CTF151 to achieve successful engagement with other Gulf Cooperation Countries.
During Operation Hamad units from CTF151 will be joined by European Union’s Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR) ship Patino. Recent coordination between CTF151 and EUNAVFOR has been taken to a new level with the two counter piracy organisations working closely towards a common goal. It is well understood that although all units and organisation have unique abilities and capabilities, increased coordination achieves increased effectiveness. Apart from keeping piracy suppressed, a goal of Hamad will be to improve the effectiveness of counter piracy operations and to better understand the merchant vessel patterns of life, through improved coordination of all assets and organisations involved in counter piracy. CCTF151, Commodore Al-Mannaie said ‘The coordination expected to be achieved during Operation Hamad will again prove that we are stronger and ready together’.
During Hamad, the concentration of units around the Socotra Gap, the Somali Coast and in the Gulf of Aden will be contributed to by CTF151, EUNAVFOR units, CTF53 alongside aircraft under the control of CMF or organically from platforms in the area of operation. Units will be deployed to best engage and protect commercial vessels in that presence is deterrence when it comes to combating piracy. The movement of vessels through the high risk area, Socotra Gap, will be monitored as well as the adherence to Best Management Practices (BMP4). Information will also be drawn from UKMTO, an organisation included in the earlier conducted engagement. Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) data as it relates to the movement of merchant vessels within the area of operations will also be used. At the end of Operation Hamad, comparisons will be made from the trends observed in relation to movement of merchant vessels in high risk areas, adherence to BMP4 as well as a range of other patterns of life associated with maritime vessel transit and movements.