Author Archives: Combined Maritime Forces

Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO) Ottaviano ‘Otto’ Cortellessa joined the Italian Marina Militare in April 1989 and is currently serving as a Senior Watchkeeper with CMF. A wide-ranging career has seen Otto working all over the world, including stints in Belgium with NATO, in Egypt, back home in Italy and now here in Bahrain, and that’s just the past ten years. As a specialist in N6 (communications), Otto’s responsible for maintaining an efficient and accurate flow of information to the Senior Watch Officers and Battle Watch Captains; a 24/7 requirement that’s crucial to the operational success of CMF. Speaking about his deployment so far, he said; “Here I work in a completely different job than my Italian background. [CMF] is one of the most diverse military working environments, with many different cultures and ways of life. “Most interesting is to be able to experience how other nations work and how…

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CTF-151 Commander Commodore (Cdre) Abdul Munib SI (M) recently held a video teleconference with the Commander of EUNAVFOR’s Task Force-465 (TF-465), Commodore Diogo Arroteia. While Cdre Munib was at CMF HQ in Bahrain, Cdre Arroteia was operating from the Spanish frigate Reina Sofía, as they actively conduct counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. Cdre Munib thanked Cdre Arroteia for his continuous support in providing TF-465 ships and maritime patrol aircraft; “We have been supporting each other well out at sea to maintain our force flow and respond to maritime security events. We need to maintain this coordination in the future as well.” “Together, we need to keep our guard up for any suspicious activity out at sea and relay information to all stakeholders; the area of operations is big, and working in collaboration is key to conducting effective patrols independently,” he added. After assuming command of the CTF-151 on…

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The French Marine Nationale ship (FS) Jean Bart has intercepted over 6500 lbs (2900 kg) of illicit drugs on February 12, 2021, in the latest successful Combined Maritime Forces interdiction in the Arabian Sea. After spotting a suspicious dhow and later investigating it using the ship’s Panther helicopter, the crew of the Jean Bart observed multiple packages being thrown overboard. The subsequent search and recovery operation seized 148 parcels containing 6526 lbs (2960 kg) of cannabis resin, known locally as hashish. The total market value of this bust amounts to over $1.5 million. Captain Ouk, commanding officer of the ship said; “I am very proud that Jean Bart and her crew could contribute to the coalition fight against illicit trafficking that feeds international crime and terrorism. This seizure results from the good co-operation amongst Combined Task Force 150 and our good knowledge of this area where French units operate on…

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The Royal Navy has intercepted over 5300 lbs (2400 kg) of illicit drugs as a result of back-to-back successful interdictions in the Arabian Sea. The boarding team from HMS Montrose, operating under the command of CMF Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) found the drugs – with a combined estimated wholesale value of over $15 million (£10.9m) – following searches of suspicious vessels whilst undertaking a counter-narcotics patrol. In the most recent operation, which lasted over ten hours, over 4700 lbs (2145 kg) of hashish, heroin, and methamphetamine were seized. This came just two days after a separate bust in which 606 lbs (275 kg) of heroin was seized in the same area. Commander Ollie Hucker, HMS Montrose Commanding Officer said; “These interdictions have prevented significant amounts of illicit substances being sold on the streets, whilst denying criminal groups an income source often associated with the funding of terrorism.” CTF-150 operates…

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Deputy Command of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has been formally handed-over by Commodore Dean Bassett to his successor Commodore Ed Ahlgren OBE, in a short ceremony at CMF headquarters in Bahrain, Feb. 10. Commodore Bassett has served as Deputy Commander since June 2019. During his time in Bahrain, he has seen multiple successive anti-narcotics operations, keeping hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal contraband off the streets and disrupting terrorist groups’ financing. Counter-piracy efforts in the CMF Area of Operations continue to provide vital security and reassurance to merchant shipping, and capacity-building efforts in the region continue to thrive. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Cdre Bassett said; “Our nations have nurtured a shared vision of maritime security, and one of the biggest successes has been learning from each other. Together, we have kept significant amounts of harmful narcotics off the streets, disrupting terrorist groups’ financing and we’ve continued…

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The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet and operating in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), interdicted a shipment of more than 600 lbs. (275 kg) of suspected narcotics from a dhow in the international waters of the North Arabian Sea, Jan. 30. Seven bags of suspected narcotics were seized and tested, resulting in a seizure of approximately 600 lbs. (275 kg) of suspected heroin, worth $2.89 million wholesale. This seizure, conducted in direct support of CMF’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, marks the seventh CMF drug seizure since October 2020. To mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, the boarding team undertook carefully executed precautionary measures during and after the boarding, to include decontamination of all seized contraband. CTF-150 conducts maritime security operations outside the Arabian Gulf to disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations, ensuring legitimate commercial shipping can transit the region,…

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Rear Admiral Sulieman Al Faqeeh of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces has formally handed-over command of Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 to Commodore Dan Charlebois of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), in a special ceremony held at the US Navy’s NAVCENT headquarters in Bahrain, Jan. 27, 2021. This concludes Saudi Arabia’s second command of CTF-150, after taking over from the French Marine Nationale in August 2020. Formed in 2002, CTF-150 is a maritime defence force that conducts Maritime Security Operations outside the Arabian Gulf. Primarily dedicated to the deterrence, disruption and suppression of trafficking and other illicit maritime activity, CTF-150 also engages with regional and other partners to strengthen relevant capabilities in the region. “These seizures have also helped international law enforcement agencies to develop a better understanding of current shifts in the drugs trade,” said Al Faqeeh at the ceremony. “Most importantly, these seizures have…

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The Commander of Pakistan-led Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) held a recent engagement via Zoom with the Commander of the Coastguard and Deputy Commander of the Djibouti Marine Nationale. Commodore Abdul Munib SI (M) of Pakistan Navy followed the current Covid-19 trend of using Zoom conference calling to discuss future collaboration and encourage counter-piracy capability development. The virtual meeting also validates that despite Covid-19 restrictions, the CTF-151 mission to engage with regional partners remains at the forefront of CMF’s operational activity. “We share a common goal – to ensure free flow of commerce,” said Cdre Munib. “At CTF-151, our measure of success is to ensure zero piracy incidents. We are already there, now we need to maintain it. Our mutual cooperation and coordination can make this happen.” He added his desire to assist Djibouti in its pathway to joining the CMF as a member nation, further enhancing cooperation between participant nations. Colonel Waiss…

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The Commander of the Pakistan-led Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), Commodore Abdul Munib SI (M) held a recent engagement with the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF), Rear Admiral Mohamed Yousif Al-Asam at their headquarters. The RBNF has a long history of supporting counter-piracy and maritime security operations in the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Area of Operations. While thanking the Admiral for the two Bahraini staff officers supporting CTF-151, Cdre Munib said; “I am extremely delighted at the wonderful job your officers are doing in the CTF-151 team. This helps, not only with mutual learning, but also for capacity-building amongst member nations.” “The measure of performance at CTF-151 is to have zero incidents of piracy in the region. We are continuously working to maintain this status in the region,” added Cdre Munib. “The cooperation and support extended by RBNF has helped the CMF forces in a big way…

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The Senior Enlisted members of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) had the pleasure of hosting the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chiefs of Staff Committee (SEAC) from the United Kingdom, WO1 Glenn Haughton. The event, which was attended by Senior Enlisted Leaders from many different nations and service organizations including Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, Marines, and Border Guard personnel, was an opportunity for multinational partners to hear a great message from a leader with over 30 years of service who has operated at the highest levels of the Senior Enlisted Continuum. Previously the first appointed British Army Sergeant Major – the Army’s highest enlisted position – he was appointed by the Chiefs of Staff Committee as the first SEAC, becoming the highest ranking enlisted member in the UK’s Armed Forces. WO1 Haughton described his definition of leadership as “caring for your people”, and used this as the basis…

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