On 5th December 2019, after 119 days in charge, the UK Command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has handed over to an Australian led Staff. The out-going CTF 150 team consisted of personnel from the Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale. They were relieved by personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal Canadian Navy.
In a short ceremony at the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Headquarters in Bahrain, the two teams met to exchange thanks and hand over Command in front of dignitaries and representatives from the 33 nations which comprise CMF. The ceremony was presided over by Commander CMF, Vice Admiral James Malloy, United States Navy.
During the period of Command, Maritime Security Operations (MSO) were conducted by Royal Navy, Marine Nationale, Pakistan Navy and US Navy assets. These patrols degrade the ability of criminal organisations to illegally exploit the high seas through the smuggling of illicit contraband. This illegal activity represents a common threat to the security and prosperity of the Middle East and countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The profit from this trade is believed to fund terrorist activities.
Support within the region for the Task Force’s activities is growing and has done throughout this Command. This was enhanced by successful bilateral talks between the Commander of CTF 150 and key regional maritime leaders. Additionally, staff from the team worked with local countries sharing expertise and developing best practice to build resilience and capacity to address maritime threats.
In his address, Vice Admiral Malloy, expressed his gratitude to Commodore (Cdre) Ahlgren OBE RN, Commander CTF 150, for his successful period in Command and said: “Commodore Ahlgren, thank you for your leadership and guiding hand in shaping this outstanding team. Your dedication and professionalism have permanently impacted this Task Force and you have much to be proud of as you prepare to return home”
The Royal Navy and Marine Nationale team have had a successful tour of duty. Of particular note, they seized and destroyed nearly $2.5 million worth of illegal narcotics. On handing over command, Cdre Ahlgren said:
“The interdiction of a dhow on 11 Oct was unique in that it was achieved by a French ship finding and fixing the contact, with a British ship taking over to recover a significant amount of narcotics valued locally at over $1.1 million wholesale, many more times this in the markets of Europe or elsewhere. This inflicted a significant dent in the funding stream of illegal organisations, thus impacting on their ability to do us or others harm”.
The Royal Navy led staff has now handed over to the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian team which is commanded by Cdre Ray Leggatt AM CSC RAN. They completed their training and validation in Australia and are ready to take over where the British and French have left off. On assuming Command, Cdre Leggatt said:
”A great thank you to Cdre Ahlgren and the Royal Navy and Marine Nationale team who have worked so hard these past months. I truly appreciate everyone’s efforts and commitment to set us up for success. I am truly honoured to be taking this unique command. We are fortunate that our Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand staff composition will bring valuable diversity in thinking and experience which will provide us with agility and unity of effort in the prosecution of our singular mission”.