Counter Piracy (CP) Focused Operation (FO) HAMAD, run by Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, has successfully concluded, with the specific aim of keeping piracy suppressed in the Socotra Gap, the Somali Coast and the Gulf of Aden. Units involved were from a variety of countries, including Japan, Oman, Pakistan and Spain.

During the operation, units were concentrated around the Socotra Gap, interacting with and monitoring the movement of Merchant Vessels (MV) using the high risk areas as a navigational short-cut, and also monitoring MV adherence to Best Management Practices (BMP4). This concentration of vessels additionally saw opportunities to conduct a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) and a number of Replenishment as Sea (RAS) serials, all critical in sustaining maritime operations.

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JS Setogiri interacting with fishing vessels during OP HAMAD

European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) asset, SPS Patino, provided a pivotal contribution to HAMAD across the FO period. Her unique skills and knowledge of the region were invaluable as she patrolled in and around Socotra delivering Pattern of Life (POL) and situational awareness to a very high level. Apart from being a steadfast presence, much of the information gathered would not have been acquired without SPS Patino’s timely and professional dedication to the task at hand. The contribution of air assets from the Japanese Navy JN41 (CTF151) and the Spanish maritime patrol aircraft CISNE (EUNAVFOR) were also significant, especially when considering the large operational area to be covered.

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SPS Patino as seen from CISNE

The operation was also an opportunity for CTF151/EUNAVFOR units to continue their routine interaction with both commercial and fishing vessels. This allows coalition surface units to not only be seen in the Area of Operations, but also to interact, communicate and share information. That being said, FOs are not the only time this interaction occurs, and in the lead up to HAMAD, Japanese Ship (JS) Setogiri provided medical assistance to a crew member of a dhow, transferring a medical specialist to the vessel so that a medical assessment and advice could be provided.

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JS Setogiri providing medical assistance to a dhow

Oman is a key partner for CMF and its contributing nations, and CMF was therefore delighted that an Omani Patrol Craft, RNOV Albushra, also participated in the FO, collecting and sharing high quality POL information. The Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Khaibar also took part, contributing to patrols in the Socotra Gap region, and through comprehensive POL analysis, they strengthened the situational awareness of this important area for all HAMAD units.

Apart from being able to show a strong physical presence in the Socotra Gap, a pleasing outcome of HAMAD was the continuation of improved coordination achieved between CP organisations. This results in a shared, more accurate understanding of the POL in relation to merchant vessel movement and adherence to BMP4. Commodore Yusuf Al-Mannaie, Royal Bahrain Navy, Commander of CTF 151, expressed his thankfulness at the close cooperation that was achieved, stating: “During HAMAD, our ships, the aircraft and tankers worked as a strong team to get the job done, we are better together”.

The role of CTF151, part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), is strengthened during FOs such as this, spreading the message on disruption of piracy, and promoting the free flow of commerce through ensuring freedom of navigation.  The professional approach by all those who took part in HAMAD was testament to the nations involved, and although a success, the CP mission will endure and will continue to rely heavily on joint cooperation in the future.