CTF 151 recently conducted Operation Haka on behalf of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a Counter Piracy Operation in the Gulf of Aden (GOA)/Socotra Gap.

This was completed as part of the Kuwait Navy-led CTF 151’s enduring mission to counter piracy, and to contribute to wider maritime security in the region.

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ESPS Castilla personnel visit  ROKS Wang Geon

Operation Haka was held over the period 16-23 November 2018, and was conducted with the dedication and assistance of adjacent forces within CMF, the European Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) CTF465, Independent Deployers and regional stakeholders. Units consisted of five ships, six aircraft, and observers from an additional five Maritime organisations. Operation HAKA aimed to strengthen effective security and regional partnerships across the GOA/Socotra Gap through a number of operational activities and training opportunities enhancing maritime security through air and surface surveillance.

Captain Ali Al-Rashidi, Kuwait Navy, Commander CTF151 said: “I am very impressed by the professionalism and efficiency demonstrated by all participating units in Focused Operation Haka. The participation from CMF units alongside independent deployers, and commercial vessels shows the determination of the combined contribution to support counter piracy efforts.”

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ESPS Castilla and ROKS Wang Geon learning to operate together.

One of the highlights of the operation was a boarding exercise conducted between INS Sunayna and the cargo vessel Maersk Seletar, providing a rare training opportunity to work together to enhance cooperation and coordination between regional contributors. This also gave the Indian Navy sailors an opportunity to practice boarding a container ship and exercise their counter-piracy techniques.

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INS Sunayna and Maersk Seletar on commencement of boarding exercise.

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INS Sunayna conducting boarding exercise on Maersk Seletar

There were a number of key objectives achieved throughout the operation; this included increased coordination with adjacent forces focusing on presence, response, enhanced information exchange and maritime awareness. This was conducted through collaboration and engagement with regional counter-piracy stakeholders in order to promote CMF’s Counter Piracy efforts. Achievements throughout the operation including two Passing Exercises (PASSEXs), a boarding exercise, and numerous approach and assist visits with local mariners. One PASSEX was conducted with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force warship JS Ikazuchi, and an Independent Deployer patrol vessel of the Indian Navy, INS Sunayna. This PASSEX included a series of communications and maneuvering exercises, helicopter and small boat operations. The second PASSEX was conducted between EU NAVFOR’s CTF465 Spanish ship ESPS Castilla and South Korean destroyer ROKS Wang Geon. This PASSEX included a series of communications and maneuvering exercises, boarding training, helicopter and small boat operations. Both PASSEXs aimed to deepen the level of engagement between ships, and enhanced force interoperability for counter piracy operations in the region.

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PASSEX: Farewell pass between JS Ikazuchi and INS Sunayna

One of the key objectives of the operation is growing regional counter piracy capacity through engagement, cooperation, and coordination of regional military forces. Working together on counter-piracy operations helps to strengthen understanding, interoperability and mission success. Regular operations and training exercises, such as Operation HAKA are essential in making this happen, developing interoperability between nations in the maritime and air domains, whilst promoting security, stability and prosperity in the region. This operation provided a good opportunity for stakeholders to test and prove their ability to work together and ensure operational effectiveness and interoperability for counter piracy operations.

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ESPS Castilla Helicopter preparing for deck landing on ROKS Wang Geon