The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has completed their first patrol with Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 since 2015, part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). USCG cutters Wrangell and Aquidneck patrolled the northern Arabian Sea from 9 to 12 February 2018 on surge operation IRON GUARDIAN, exercising maritime security operations in the area.
The latest patrols assessed the interoperability between CTF 150, CMF’s counter-terrorism and maritime security task force, and the USCG. Cutters Wrangell and Aquidneck spent three days patrolling in company, assisted by air assets from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, French Navy and the Royal Navy. During IRON GUARDIAN, the USCG, supported by CTF 150 headquarters, exercised their surveillance capabilities and boarding operations in an area known to be transited by vessels carrying illicit cargoes. Over the three day surge operation, the USCG conducted a flag verification boarding on a vessel transiting the area, highlighting the importance of this aspect of contemporary maritime law enforcement.
USCG Lieutenant Jason Helsabeck worked closely with CTF 150 throughout IRON GUARDIAN, commenting: “This was my first time working with CTF 150 and it was a remarkable experience to work as part of a multinational coalition. Each country brings its own expectations and expertise to the table and the real world experience of CMF partners in anti-narcotics smuggling provided an excellent learning opportunity for the USCG.”
Commodore Mal Wise, Commander CTF 150, reflected on the recent patrols: “USCG cutters are versatile ships with highly qualified crews that are trained for exactly the type of operations undertaken by CTF 150. Their unique capabilities together with the operational experience of partner nations in CMF can affect real change in this important region.”
CTF 150’s mandate is to promote security and stability at sea by countering terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements. The USCG shares a similar mandate, promoting the legitimate use of the international waters of the Middle East. CTF 150 is currently under Australian command, staffed by a combined Canadian and Australian team and supported by assets from Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since December 2017, CTF 150 has seized over 16 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin, valued in excess of $1 billion USD.