The Royal Navy (RN) today handed over command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150) to the Royal Saudi Navy (RSN) after conducting a change of command ceremony at CMF Headquarters in Bahrain.

Commodore Al-shahrani RSN, assumed command of CTF150 from Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE RN. The ceremony was presided over by Vice Admiral Scott Stearney USN, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander US Fifth Fleet and Commander Combined Maritime Forces.

The assumption of command of CTF150 by Saudi Arabia is particularly notable as this will be first time any Gulf nation will have undertaken this role in CMF. In addition to this, the RSN will continue its present lead of CTF152.

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Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE Royal Navy hands over the baton of command of CTF150 to Commodore Al-shahrani under the watchful guise of Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, US Navy and Commander of CMF.

In his address to guests from the 33 member countries off CMF, Vice Admiral Stearney said: “I have every faith and confidence that Commodore Al-shahrani and his team will be as successful in protecting this great region’s maritime traffic and international waterways as Commodore Moorhouse and his team have been”.

The principal mission of CTF150 is to deter terrorism, narcotics smuggling, charcoal and other illegal activity in the maritime environment across an area of almost 3.2 million square miles, encompassing the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea. During the next four months the Saudi Arabian-led team will continue their work to counter terrorism and drug smugglers and reassure legitimate users of the high seas while ensuring the free flow of commerce across the area of operations.

During his tenure as CTF150, Commodore Moorhouse was successful in leading a multinational staff, comprising personnel from the United Kingdom, Canada, France and New Zealand. Under his command CTF 150 conducted four narcotics seizures, despite the monsoon season making maritime operations in the Indian Ocean extremely challenging. He also undertook several visits to countries such as Djibouti, the UAE and Kenya to further strengthen relations and improve information exchange.

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The Combined Task Force 150, with the outgoing British led team on the left and the incoming Saudi led team on the right.

On handing over command, Commodore Moorhouse said: “”The importance of CTF 150 remains as relevant today as when it was formed.  The success of the current UK led iteration is the testament to the effect that nations working together can improve maritime security in this important region.”

On assuming command, Commodore Al-shahrani said “I have the honor to command CTF 150, which is the first time for my country, within this international maritime alliance to counter terrorism and to guarantee free flow of commerce”.