Japan has today taken command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 after conducting a change of command ceremony with the Royal Bahrain Navy. This was presided over by Vice Admiral John C Aquilino USN, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander US Fifth Fleet and Commander Combined Maritime Forces. CTF 151’s principal mission is to deter piracy and armed robbery in the maritime environment across an area of almost 2 million square miles, encompassing the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea.
Rear Admiral Daisuke Kajimoto, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force, assumed command of CTF151 from Commodore Yusuf Almannaei, Royal Bahrain Navy on 1 March 2018 at a ceremony at CMF headquarters in Bahrain. In attendance supporting Bahrain’s handover was Rear Admiral Mohammed Alsaada, Director of Military Cooperation Bahrain Defence Forces, Commodore Mohammed Yusef Al Asam, Commander Royal Bahrain Naval Forces and supporting Japan was Mr. Katsuhiko Araike, Charge d’ Affaires, Embassy of Japan to Bahrain. On handing over command, Commodore Yusuf Almannaei said, “It seems like it was yesterday I stood here and accepted the baton from the Turkish Navy, although it was 120 days ago. Now I stand ready to pass on the baton to Japan Maritime Self Defence Force.
He reflected: “The hallmark of Bahrain’s command has been effective cooperation, both at an organisational level and on a personal level. There are many organisations who share our responsibility for deterring piracy and protecting global maritime commerce and securing the freedom of navigation, without the support of CMF, EUNAVFOR, CTF 150 and non-military organisations such as UKMTO the successful completion of our mission would not have been possible. Despite this fact combined with the recent low activity in relation to piracy activity, we are under no illusion that piracy has been defeated. The threat of piracy, rather, is suppressed and only the continuation of CTF151’s mission will see this suppression continue. The unsuccessful attack on the merchant vessel Ever Dynamic in November 2017, is a demonstration that piracy can still occur and the attackers are now facing the legal consequences of their actions.”
During the next four months Japan will lead a multi-national team to deter pirates, reassure those who ply their trade and travel upon the high seas legitimately, and facilitate the free flow of commerce across the area of operations. On assuming command, Rear Admiral Daisuke Kajimoto said it was a privilege to lead the CTF 151 command rotation. He praised the successes of Commodore Almannaei’s team both at sea and in their active engagement with regional nations, and commenting on the task ahead he said: “Though my team will face challenges in an ever evolving environment, I assure you that we will tackle every challenge with the utmost vigour and resilience.”
Not only does CTF 151 synchronise its efforts with EUNAVFOR, it also works closely with a number of independent nations patrolling the Maritime Security Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden.