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For the fourth time since 2013, Japan has taken command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 at a short ceremony at Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) headquarters in Bahrain, relieving the Kuwait Navy of their duties.

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CMF is a 33-nation naval partnership which works collaboratively with partners and organisations to ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region; the continued success of which relies upon the willingness of nations to contribute. CTF 151 is CMF’s task force focusing on countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa.

Since taking command from Republic of Korea Navy in October last year, Captain Khaled Alkandari and his team have led CTF 151 through a number of important key leader engagement events, focused operations and counter piracy activities. They have enjoyed associated and direct support to operations from a number of nations’ vessels, most notably from Japan, Republic of Korea and the Netherlands.

During the Change of Command ceremony at CMF headquarters in Bahrain, command of the task force was handed from Captain Alkandari to Rear Admiral Ishimaki of Japan. Of his time in command, Captain Alkandari said “Over the last four months it has been an honour for me personally and for the Kuwait Naval Force to lead Combined Task Force 151”.

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Rear Admiral Ishimaki will lead a ‘rainbow team’ of staff, so-called because of the number of countries represented. The team largely consists of members of the Japanese Navy but also staff from Australia, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Thailand, UK, USA, and will additionally have the support of a liaison officer from Oman. On taking command, Rear Admiral Ishimaki said: “It is a great opportunity to lead and execute this mission with these highly professional staff members, representing eight countries. My team and I will do our utmost to deter and suppress pirate activity while reassuring legitimate users of the high seas.”

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Commander CMF, Vice Admiral James Malloy, USN, presided over the ceremony and said: “With Kuwait firmly in command of this task force they have sent a signal of great resolve and capability. You have every reason to be proud and I thank you.” Addressing the incoming CTF151 Commander he said “Rear Admiral Ishimaki, it is my honor to welcome you and your team here, and I look forward to working with you as you execute your mission.”

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