The Royal Saudi Naval Force (RNSF) today handed over command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) CTF150 to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) after conducting a change of command ceremony at the CMF headquarters in Bahrain.
The outgoing and incoming CTF150 commanders flank Deputy Command CMF, Cdre Dainton as the national anthems are played.
Commodore Darren Garnier RCN took command from Commodore Al-Shahrani RSNF. The ceremony was presided over by Commodore Steve Dainton Royal Navy, Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces.
This is the third time that Canada have taken command of CTF150. Both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force provide military personnel to the CMF headquarters.
Cdre Al-Shahrani has commanded CTF150 since August 2018, a period which has seen ships from many CMF countries providing support to their counter-terrorism role in the Indian Ocean, resulting in over 10, 500kg of hashish being seized and destroyed. Profits from drug trafficking in the region are a known source of funding for terrorists and criminal networks. Cdre Al-Shahrani has also undertaken a busy period of meetings and engagements with key leaders of CMF member states in the region, including nations such as Pakistan, Seychelles and the UAE. He has also held important meetings with Egypt to reinforce relations with CMF and develop information sharing.
Upon his departure, Cdre Al-Shahrani said: “I would like to thank all our team at CFT150 for their support. We have worked hard to support the free flow of commerce in the region.”
Cdre Al-Shahrani of the Royal Saudi Naval Force addresses the audience.
Cdre Darren Garnier RCN said: “On behalf of Canada and the incoming CTF 150 staff, I am honoured to assume command of CTF 150 and I can assure you that our joint Canadian and Australian staff has worked extremely hard to prepare for this important counter-terrorism mission. This deployment is a team effort and we will engage tirelessly to enhance regional cooperation and coalition interoperability, while helping to ensure maritime security and the free-flow of international trade and commence in some of the world’s busiest and most challenging waterways. As the incoming staff, we are keen to build upon the enduring contributions of our predecessors and to work alongside our current Combined Maritime Forces partners. We will be seeking opportunities to disrupt use of the high seas by terrorist groups as a pathway for illicit activities that is then used to fund or conceal their movements.”
In his address to guests from the 33 member countries off CMF, Commodore Dainton, Deputy Commander of CMF said: “I am incredibly proud of the positive impact Commodore Hassan and his team have made on the region and the CMF in the time of his command. For that I say Shukran; I’m sure that your tour at the helm of CTF 150 has been both challenging and rewarding and your leadership and expertise will be missed greatly, but I am sure you are ready to return home to your family.”
He added: “Commodore Garnier is a highly respected officer of the Royal Canadian Navy. He holds all the needed credentials required to carry on CTF 150’s legacy and to command the CMF task force. This will be the third time that Canada has taken command of CTF 150 and I have every faith and confidence that his team will be as successful as their predecessors in protecting this great region’s maritime traffic and international waterways.”
Cdre Dainton, Deputy Commander CMF, oversees the symbolic passing of the telescope as Canada assume command of CTF150.
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 Canadian-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.
Cdre Garnier (left) cuts the ceremonial cake with Cdre Dainton (centre) and Cdre AlShahrani (right) to celebrate the change of command.