CMF hosted a Maritime Security Conference (MSC) on 14-15 Mar 18 in Bahrain. The conference brought together the majority of CMF’s 32 contributing nations to share valuable knowledge and experience in order to maximise the organisation’s maritime effectiveness.

20180314-MSC Group

The key topics covered during the MSC included recent successes of the three Combined Task Forces (CTFs) 150, 151 and 152, along with comprehensive discussions on maritime security threats in the Middle East. Over 150 delegates from across the CMF nations attended bringing a wide range of knowledge and experience. Through a series of focused working groups for the Flag Officers, fleet planning officers, Senior Enlisted Leaders, and Legal Advisors, the participants discussed some of the pertinent challenges facing CMF and made great progress towards a way forward.

The conference was led by the Commander Combined Maritime Forces, Vice Admiral John Aquilino, United States Navy. He stressed the importance of shared knowledge and understanding between the 32 members of CMF, making a point to highlight the hard work and dedication of the CMF and the value of their role in the region. He summarised “This group can get together and operate seamlessly for all the right reasons. So I continue to hold this force up as an example and beacon of what right looks like in the world when it comes to operations and maritime security.”

Attendees discussed the continuing effort to counter piracy in order to reduce wider terrorist activity in the Middle East which a key aim of the CMF.  Beyond this, a topic of particular interest was the recent successes of the Australian led Combined Task Force 150, having conducted 23 vessel boardings since December 2017 with direct support from Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Warramunga, Pakistan Naval Ship Aslat and French Marine Nationale Destroyer, Jean De Vienne. The totals of drugs seized was a staggering 1.6 tonnes of heroin and over 28 tonnes of hashish with an incredible street value in excess of 1.5 Billion US dollars.

The Deputy Commander, Commodore Steve Dainton, Royal Navy addressed the conference, acknowledging that CMF is effective because of the enduring partnership of its nations and stated “The strength of CMF is the willingness of our nations to contribute to maritime security tasks. Your individual contributions undoubtedly provide legitimacy to the organisation.”  In sum, his speech summarised the key points from the CMF 2017 End of Year Report that was issued in February 2018.


There are a number of key elements which form an effective combined maritime organisation, not just the assets deployed at sea and in the air, but the specialist advisors located across the globe. Amongst these are the legal advisors, who are essential for ensuring all activity conducted by the CMF operates in accordance with international laws and norms.  The annual Legal Conference ran in parallel to the main conference and they focused specifically on the legal implications of maritime operations. This is of particular importance when working with 32 different nations whom occasionally have unique procedures that may not be compatible with the broader CMF mission. Through careful planning and coordination CMF remains effective and united in common purpose.

CMF is founded on the willingness of nations to participate in a shared aim, and conference events such as the MSC not only strengthens the bond between the 32 nations, but spreads the word of the good work being achieved to other nations who may benefit from future membership.