Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE Royal Navy, Commander Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150), visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 25th June to meet key members of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and the Commander, Evacuation and Humanitarian Operations Cell, in order to further strengthen maritime security cooperation between the Kingdom and the Combined Maritime Forces.

Commodore Moorhouse said: “With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shortly due to take command of Combined Task Force 150, this was a timely opportunity to discuss common interests regarding maritime security and the free flow of maritime commerce in the region.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key and longstanding member of the Combined Maritime Forces, with coasts on both the Red Sea and the Gulf.  It has regularly contributed to, and commanded, Combined Task Force 152, responsible for maritime security in the Gulf and in August 2018 it will assume command of Combined Task Force 150 for the first time.

CTF150, as part of the 32-nation Combined Maritime Forces, is responsible for disrupting the illicit activities of terrorist organisations in the Western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. This includes preventing the illicit transportation of personnel, weapons, charcoal and narcotics.  These operations starve such organisations of the financial means necessary to conduct their illegal activities.

Commodore Moorhouse began his visit at the Headquarters of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) in Riyadh, where he met with the Head of Operations, Rear Admiral Sagar Al Harbi.  During their discussion, they focused on the role of CTF150, with the Kingdom looking forward to assuming command of CTF150, seeing it as a great opportunity.  There was agreement on the need for common effort to combat smuggling and that information sharing was important, as CMF operations are intelligence led.  Commodore Moorhouse said: “With over 2 million square miles of ocean to cover, intelligence is critical to ensure that scarce warship assets can be utilized effectively and that CTF150’s operations are conducted within the bounds of international law”.

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Rear Admiral Sagar Al Harbi, Head of Operations for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, presents a gift to Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE Royal Navy, Commander CTF150, during his visit to the Royal Saudi Naval Forces Headquarters. 

Commodore Moorhouse was then given a tour of the RSNF Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) by the head of the MOC, Commodore Al Shehri. The MOC is a modern and impressive facility which gives the RSNF situational awareness of maritime activity in the region.  Commodore Moorhouse’s final meeting at RSNF Headquarters was with Deputy Head Operations, Rear Admiral Jasser Al Shehri, where they discussed training and support for the incoming Saudi CTF150 team.

Commodore Moorhouse later visited Saudi Joint Forces Command, where he meet with the Commander of the Evacuation and Humanitarian Operations Cell, Major General Abdullah Al Hobabi from the Royal Saudi Air Force.  During their discussion the importance of intelligence to defeat smuggling was again discussed and the Major General was keen to understand more about the role that CMF played in ensuring that the high seas remained the preserve of legitimate seafarers.

Reflecting on his visit, Commodore Moorhouse said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains an important member within the Combined Maritime Forces and this visit was an excellent opportunity to discuss maritime security issues and information sharing and I thank Saudi Arabia for its continued support to the CMF mission”.