Commander of CTF 151, Rear Admiral Nejat Inanir held a video conference call with
Lt Cdr Chris Long, Officer in Charge of the Dubai based UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office.

The UKMTO provides an information conduit between the military and wider international maritime trade. UKMTO delivers timely maritime security information, often acting as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels involved in maritime incidents or travelling within an area of high risk.

The link between CTF 151, as the Combined Maritime Forces’ counter piracy task force operating in the region is clear. CTF 151 informs the UKMTO about where warships operating under their command will be patrolling, and the UKMTO passes this information to merchant vessels.

Equally, the UKMTO will receive information or alerts from merchant ships in the area and will pass them to the Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) belonging to organizations such as CTF 151 to direct a warship to that location, if required. It is important to note that coordination for responses to such events will remain with the military task force and not the UKMTO’s responsibility.

“The main aim for CTF 151 is ensuring that the collaboration and coordination between our organizations continues,” said RADM Inanir. “The regular interaction between CTF 151 and the UKMTO operational centers is key to maintaining maritime security in the region.”

Lt Cdr Chris Long talks about coordinating merchant shipping safely.

Lt Cdr Long, the Officer in Charge of the Dubai-based UKMTO office said: “There is a long and close relation between CTF 151 and the UKMTO and it’s important to maintain that. Information flow is key to reassuring the maritime industry that there is a permanent military presence to patrol the high risk areas.

He added: “Merchant ships can also report their observations of suspicious activity through the UKMTO to enable military task forces such as CTF 151 to monitor ‘Pattern of Life activity’ reports for situational awareness.”

With the South West monsoon season drawing to an end, RADM Inanir observed that with the lower sea state comes an increase in fishing activity, especially from skiffs close to the coast. RADM Inanir discussed a UKMTO distribution of a notice to encourage merchant shipping to follow the guidelines in BMP5, including using the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). The IRTC is sufficiently distant from the coast to minimize fishing skiff activity interacting with merchant shipping, thereby reducing the number of false alarms raised. Warship patrols can be concentrated along the IRTC, increasing maritime security for those merchant vessels transiting through the area.