Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)

A 32-nation naval partnership

CTF 150: Maritime Security

Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

CTF 150’s mission is to promote maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements.

The activities of CTF 150 are a critical part of global counter-terrorism efforts, as terrorist organisations are denied a risk-free method of conducting operations or moving personnel, weapons or income-generating narcotics.

CTF 150’s Area of Operation includes some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and spans over two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman (but not the Arabian Gulf, which is the responsibility of CTF 152). This area is a vital artery of world trade from the Far East to Europe and the US, with thousands of shipping movements per year including the transportation of over 27 million barrels of oil[1]. In addition, the AOR contains three narrow waterways, known as ‘choke points’, where vessels are required to pass closely between two shorelines. These include the Strait of Hormuz, Bab El Mandeb and the Suez Canal. This means ships have limited maneuverability and are more vulnerable than would otherwise be the case in open waters.

HMS Monmouth Drug Seizure
The Royal Navy crew and Royal Marines boarding party of HMS Monmouth with their seizure of US$88 million of heroin and hashish. HMS Monmouth was under the command of CTF 150

History

Task Force 150 was a US Navy formation under the control of the US Naval Forces Central Command (CENTCOM). After the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, it was re-established as a multinational coalition in order to undertake counter-terrorism operations at sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The coalition has grown and evolved beyond that operation’s scope to encompass and address widely perceived maritime security threats to member states.

Composition

CTF 150 is a multinational task force. Participating nations have included: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, and Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. Participation is purely voluntary and no nation is asked to carry out any duty that it is unwilling to conduct. Command of CTF 150 is generally rotated between nations on a four basis.

Maritime Security Operations (MSO)

Maritime Security Operations (MSO) help develop security in the maritime environment, thereby contributing to stability and prosperity on a regional and a global level.

FS Surcouf Drug Seizure
French Ship Surcouf interdicting a Dhow in the Arabian Sea in May 2017, leading to the successful apprehension of around 400kg of narcotics worth a projected US$155 million

MSO deter and deny the use of the maritime environment for terrorism and the facilitation of malign activities.  MSO complements the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations on land.  MSO are conducted under international maritime law and international maritime conventions to help ensure security and safety in international waters. This ensures that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region.

CTF 150 vessels also assist mariners in distress and undertake humanitarian work as required.

[1] Reference: “World Oil Transit Checkpoints”, 2017, US Energy Information Administration