Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)

A 34-nation naval partnership

CTF 151: Counter-piracy

Currently Commanded by:

Brazilian Navy

Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) is one of four task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with CMF coastal states, CTF 151’s mission is to take actions, within its area of operations, to directly suppress piracy outside territorial waters of Coastal States, in coordination with EUNAVFOR; indirectly target trafficking of humans and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by gathering and sharing information; provide TF input into Information and Strategic Communications effects; and conduct Key Leaders Engagements and Capacity Building activities, in order to contribute to deter illicit non-state actors from the use of the high seas, develop capacity for regional leadership and reassure the international community.

The Republic of Korea Ship Kang Gam Chan conducting a counter-piracy exercise with RIBs and Lynx helicopter as a participant of CTF 151.

CTF 151 was established in January 2009, with a specific piracy mission-based mandate, currently endorsed under UNSCR 2608 (2021), in order to contribute to the protection of commerce free flow.

History

Modern-day piracy off the coast of Somalia has grown from the economic, social and political strife that has gripped the country since the mid-1990s. The rise of piracy in the region can be linked directly to the fall of the government in 1991 when gangs operated under local clan loyalty and warlord leadership facilitated by the vacuum of national governance.

During the second phase of the Somali Civil War in 2000, foreign ships exploited the absence of an effective national coast guard and illegally exploited Somali fishing grounds as well as dumping illicit waste that would further diminish the local fishing stocks. Local communities responded by forming armed groups to deter invaders.  This grew into a lucrative trade, whereby such groups would hijack commercial vessels and ask for large ransom payments.

There was an unsuccessful attack by pirates in the Somali Basin in April 2019, however, the last two successful piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia were in the spring of 2017 and these were the first successful attacks since 2012.

Japanese Defense Force Ship Harusame conducting counter-piracy patrols in CTF 151 area of operations

Composition

CTF 151 is a multinational force. Command is rotated between participating nations on a three to six month basis. Countries that have led CTF 151 include Bahrain, Brazil, Denmark, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and the USA. A variety of countries assign vessels, aircraft and personnel to the task force.

Counter-piracy

In conjunction with the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR), and together with independently deployed naval ships from nations such as China, CTF 151 helps to patrol the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).

The EUNAVFOR Operation ATALANTA military maritime mission was instigated by the EU in 2008 in response to the unprecedented Somali piracy crisis that affected the Gulf of Aden and wider Indian Ocean. It works in conjunction with CMF, the maritime industry and together with partner missions inside Somalia such as the World Food Programme, United Nations (UN) and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Japanese Defense Force Ship Yuugiri, supporting Combined Task Force 151, and Spanish Frigate Victoria, flagship of EUNAVFOR Task Force 465, conducting Sea Joint Activities in Gulf of Aden

By following the guidance provided in Best Management Practices Rev. 5 (BMP5), merchant vessels will reduce the chances of being successfully attacked by piracy and/or small, high-speed boats using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, and explosives.

CMF supports BMP5, as promoted by the commercial shipping community. BMP5 offers advice and guidance on avoiding and deterring piracy and is targeted at seafarers who intend to travel through the Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, and the Indian Ocean. Measures include: maintaining a proactive 24-hour lookout; reporting suspicious activities to authorities; removing access ladders; protecting the lowest points of access; the use of deck lighting, netting, razor wire, electrical fencing, fire hoses and surveillance and detection equipment; engaging in evasive maneuvering and speed during an attack; and joining group transits.

DateCountryNumber of Times
11-Jan-09USA1
05-Apr-09USA2
03-May-09Turkey1
13-Aug-09USA3
20-Jan-10Singapore1
21-Apr-10ROK1
01-Sep-10Turkey2
29-Nov-10Pakistan1
31-Mar-11Singapore2
01-Jul-11New Zealand1
27-Sep-11Pakistan2
13-Jan-12Denmark1
29-Mar-12Thailand1
18-Jun-12ROK2
19-Sep-12Turkey3
13-Dec-12Pakistan3
07-Mar-13Singapore3
06-Jun-13Pakistan4
05-Sep-13UK1
12-Dec-13Denmark2
27-Feb-14Pakistan5
12-Jun-14ROK3
28-Aug-14New Zealand2
25-Nov-14Thailand2
26-Feb-15Pakistan6
31-May-15Japan1
27-Aug-15Turkey4
21-Dec-15Pakistan7
31-Mar-16Singapore4
30-Jun-16ROK4
27-Oct-16Pakistan8
09-Mar-17Japan2
29-Jun-17Turkey5
02-Nov-17Bahrain1
01-Mar-18Japan3
28-Jun-18Singapore5
27-Sep-18Kuwait1
21-Feb-19Kuwait2
20-Jun-19ROK5
20-Oct-19Kuwait3
20-Feb-20Japan4
25-Jun-20Turkey6
9-Dec-20Pakistan9
9-Jun-21Brazil1
18-Nov-21Jordan1
14-Apr-22Pakistan10
18-Aug-22Brazil2
CTF 151 Command History

As shown in the table above, several countries have contributed to carrying out the CTF 151 mission. Although, there have been no incidents of piracy off the Horn of Africa reported in the last years. The potential for piracy is suppressed, but not eradicated, therefore CTF 151’s mission to deter and disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea remains as vital as ever.

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