A routine patrol for a warship turned into a lifeline for Somali sailors stranded in a skiff that had been floating for seven days.

Japanese warship JS Teruzuki approached the vessel to offer assistance early on Wednesday 21 June, in international waters north of Berbera. In a Sea State 4, the skiff had no fuel and the sailors had already run out of food and water.

Under command of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), JS Teruzuki and South Korean warship ROKS Dae Jo Yeong liaised to get supplies of gasoline to the skiff. Meanwhile, the sailors were given food and drink. Despite the combined efforts of the crews, the skiff’s engines were unable to restart and the decision was made by the Japanese to tow the stricken vessel into territorial waters to meet a Somali Coast Guard tug.

Commenting on international cooperation, Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF, Commander CTF151, said: “South Korean and Japanese warships have worked together closely in CTF151 for many years, but this was the first time Japan and Somalia had interacted in this way.”

Following the rescue, he added: “This incident demonstrates the important role played by warships in protecting the safety of life at sea of all mariners. We were happy to help.”

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The Dhow Hunters – Maritime Patrol Aircraft Facilitate 8 Narcotics Seizures in two months

In the last two months, the French-UK led Combined Task Force 150 has seized more than 1.75 tons of narcotics from traffickers in the Indian Ocean including heroin, hashish and cocaine. It is warships and boarding teams that make the seizures, and receive deserved praise for doing so, but it is vital to recognise the important contribution of the maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), that have been operating in direct support to CTF 150.

Between April and June 2017, Denmark, France, and New Zealand have all provided MPA in direct support to CTF 150’s operations. The benefits of the MPA are obvious. A frigate without organic aerial surveillance assets is able to patrol an area, visually and using radar, of approximately 5000 square miles over a 24 hour period – dependant on sea state, radar ranges and other factors.

CTF 150’s Indian Ocean Area of Operations is approximately 2,000,000 square miles, meaning that it would take one warship 400 days to cover the entire area. Finding a trafficker that is moving and has an active interest in avoiding a warship is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Equipped with modern sensors, MPA can cover a far larger area of ocean. For example, The Royal Danish Air Force Challenger 604 aircraft can cover an area 15 times larger than a warship, up to 75,000 square miles in a single patrol. Thus to patrol the entire CTF 150 Area of Operations would take only 27 days. With intelligence-led planning, MPA can search specific areas and feed this information to the warships who can pursue and intercept the dhows.

In April, the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 MPA located a suspicious dhow heading south east towards Africa. The dhow’s position was passed to the French frigate Surcouf, which sprinted to intercept and board the suspect smuggler. During the subsequent search, nearly 200 kg of heroin was discovered hidden in the vessel by the boarding team, which was then seized and destroyed.

Meanwhile, the French Navy’s Falcon F-50 MPA has been operating from Mayotte in the Southern Indian Ocean and has been key to locating dhows in a remote sector of the Area of Operations. “Forward basing MPA in the south of the Area of Operations significantly improves our flexibility and coverage. It increases the time the aircraft can spend on task patrolling, as they aren’t required to make long transits to patrol areas. Their continuous hard work and commitment has enabled many of CTF 150’s successful narcotics seizures,” said Rear Admiral Oliver Lebas, Commander of CTF 150.

Lieutenant Colonel Iversen, the Danish MPA liaison officer at CTF150 headquarters in Bahrain, said: “It has been a pleasure to support the French-UK CTF 150 mission during this past month. The Royal Danish Air Force detachment flying and maintaining the Bombardier Challenger 604 aircraft operating from the Seychelles have worked flawlessly during a busy period in direct support to CTF 150. The challenging tasking made flexible execution essential, and the hard work of the aircraft crew and great support from the Seychelles authorities made it possible to deploy quickly and operate efficiently in support of CTF 150.”

Established in 2002, CTF 150 is primarily focused on disrupting terrorist organisations and their activities by denying them the freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain.  In collaboration with international and regional maritime security partners, CTF 150 teams have seized and destroyed billions of dollars in drugs and captured thousands of weapons ensuring they are no longer available to organisations that would cause others harm.

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Eid Poster

القوات البحرية المشتركة تتمنى لكم عيد مبارك
كل عام وانتم بخير

Combined Maritime Forces wishes you a happy Eid

# القوات البحرية المشتركة
# عيد الفطر
# شهر رمضان
# البحرين
# السعودية
# مصر
# الامارات


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Maritime Iftar in Bahrain

During Ramadan, a combined mix of maritime forces in Bahrain has conducted an Iftar Ceremony alongside their naval vessels.

On Wednesday 21st June members of the Royal Navy’s United Kingdom Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) invited members of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) and the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) to an Iftar meal, the breaking of the Ramadan fast at the end of each day.  The fast is officially broken at sunset, with a short prayer followed by a sociable meal with friends and family.

Seniors Officers, naval ratings and other guests were hosted by Captain Simon Asquith RN the Deputy Commander of UKMCC.  He said: “We have taken the opportunity, whilst in Bahrain, to connect with local religious and military leaders as a gesture of respect for our local hosts” and added: “we have excellent relations here in Bahrain and as we prepare to open HMS JUFAIR later in the year this strengthens our ties and understanding as we operate alongside the RBNF and CMF.”

The UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Islamic Advisor, Imam Asim Hafiz OBE who conducted the ceremony said: “Hosting an Iftar party is an honour and something that governments all around the world routinely do for their Muslim citizens” adding: “I have been honoured to have led this ceremony and prayers with our naval brethren here in Bahrain”.  Imam Asim also had the opportunity during his visit to meet with Bahraini military counterparts to discuss mutual understanding and religious and cultural cooperation.

Accompanying him was the Chair of the UK’s Armed Forces Muslim Association, Major Naveed Muhammed MBE from the UK’s Royal Corps of Signals, who assisted with the event. A traditional snack of dates and water was served in the Majlis tent set up on the jetty next to HMS Middleton and HMS Bangor.  Naveed said: “At a time of turbulence in the world this was a great opportunity for personnel of all faiths, and from different nations, to share in this Islamic breaking of the Ramadan fast” adding: “sharing these rituals helps create an open understanding, which is vital today.”

After the meal Naveed said: “The role of the UK Armed Forces can sometimes be misunderstood. It was a privilege to be able to take part in this engagement.  It was an important opportunity alongside individuals from strategic partner nations in a sensitive part of the world and was an excellent way in which to highlight the UK Armed Forces’ commitment to better understanding the areas in which they operate therefore improving mutual understanding which ultimately leads to respect for each other.”

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A Japanese Rear Admiral and his headquarters staff have met the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force and visited a South Korean warship, three weeks before the end of their operational tour.

Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF, Commander of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), has been based in Bahrain since early March with his multinational staff of 25 people from 11 countries including both Bahraini and South Korean naval personnel.

20170612_RAdm_Fukuda_helm_TS__RBNS_Al_BudaiyaImage: RADM Fukuda at the helm of TS RBNS Al Budaiya

During a South Korean port visit to Bahrain, the Commanding Officer of destroyer ROKS Choi Young, Captain Kyung-Ryul Kim, visited the headquarters of CTF151, accompanied by Captain Sung-Hyeok Choi, Commanding Officer of destroyer ROKS Dae Jo Yeong. Later, at a reception on board ROKS Choi Young, Rear Admiral Fukuda met Dr Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahriain’s Undersecretary of International Affairs, and His Excellency Koo Hyunmo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea.

20170612_RAdm_Fukuda in discussion with His Excellency Rear Admiral Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah al KhalifaImage: RADM Fukuda in discussion with His Excellency RADM Sheikh Khalifa bin Abdullah al Khalifa

In the same week, His Excellency Rear Admiral Sheikh Khalifa Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF), welcomed Rear Admiral Fukuda during the Task Force Commander’s visit to the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, accompanied by His Excellency Mr Kiyoshi Asako, Ambassador of Japan.

20170612_ROK Ambassador, CO CHY and DJY greetings Bahrain MOFA Undersecretary of Intl. Affairs (Dr. Shaikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa)Image: RoK Ambassador, CO CHY and DJY greets Bahrain Undersecretary of International Affairs (Dr. Shaikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa)

A tour of the Al Manama Class corvette RBNS Al Muharraq and training vessel RBNS Al-Budaiya demonstrated to Rear Admiral Fukuda some of the RBNF’s capabilities. He was shown around the vessels by the Commanding Officer of RBNS Al Muharraq, Captain Arif Al-Rouye.

The meetings enabled Rear Admiral Fukuda to express his thanks to both Bahrain and South Korea for their support and assistance. ROKS Choi Young has made a significant contribution to counter piracy operations in the region over the last four months and ROKS Dae Jo Yeong will now join CTF151. Bahrain continues to support CTF151’s counter piracy operations, having contributed two personnel to the international team.

20170612_ROK Ambassador, CO CHY and DJY greetings_CTF 151_RAdmImage: RoK Ambassador, CO CHY and DJY greets CCTF151 (RADM Fukuda)

In discussions with Rear Admiral Fukuda, the South Korean officers were able to discuss escort procedures for merchant vessels, counter piracy operations and maritime security. As Japan and South Korea are both maritime nations operating in the region, there was agreement about the importance of freedom of navigation for merchant ships. These thoughts were echoed in discussions with the Commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, who stressed the importance of working together in a multinational environment.

Rear Admiral Fukuda said: “It is important for counter piracy operations that maritime forces work together with international partners.” Commenting on the week’s events, he added: “These visits gave me confidence that our nations can continue to operate alongside each other to confront future challenges to freedom of navigation on the high seas.”

20170612_Cake cutting for greeting handover-2Image: Cake cutting during greeting
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HMAS Arunta Intercepts 260kg of heroin

HMAS Arunta has completed a third significant narcotics interdiction after seizing 260kg of heroin in the Indian Ocean, while operating in support of the French-UK led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).

The Royal Australian Navy frigate intercepted the dhow after the ship’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected it acting suspiciously on 7 June during a planned surface search.

The following morning, the frigate’s boarding team climbed on board the suspect vessel and began conducting their search. The smugglers go to extraordinary lengths to hide the valuable cargo, meaning searches can take several days on larger dhows. For example, in a recent seizure in support of CTF 150, the contraband was hidden below 2,500 kg of ice. Boarding teams use specialised search techniques and equipment to discover the illicit cargo and expedite the process.

Commander Cameron Steil, Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, praised the professionalism of his crew after conducting operations in difficult weather conditions.

“Arunta’s skilled personnel working throughout the night and in difficult conditions have once again prevailed in disrupting narcotics smuggling activities in the Middle East region. This success can be fully attributed to the dedication and professionalism of Arunta’s Ship’s Company who have continued to set a high standard of operational competence,” said Commander Steil.

The interdiction takes Arunta’s tally of narcotics seizures since beginning her deployment in November 2016 to approximately 1.5 tons, including heroin and hashish. “Instead of saturating national drug markets and contributing to the funding streams of terrorist organisations, the narcotics have been destroyed. HMAS Arunta and her crew have continued their excellent work in support of CTF 150,” said Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas, Commander of CTF 150.

Major General Frewen, Commander of Joint Task Force 633, added: “HMAS Arunta has a strong reputation within the Combined Maritime Forces as being tenacious and meticulous in their pursuit of illegal cargoes and the discovery of these concealed drugs shows how well trained, equipped and motivated our personnel are.”

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Following a recent Combined Maritime Force focused operation, a counter piracy task force has developed significant insights into the activities of mariners off Somalia.

The operation, code named ‘Samurai Sword’, enabled counter piracy forces from Japan, USA, South Korea and Pakistan, working in Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), to enhance their interoperability alongside the EUNAVFOR task force, CTF465, and independent assets from India and China. The ships, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) enabled enhanced engagement with maritime communities in the region.

JS TERUZUKI's AA Team passing out MEPS to mariners 4Image: JS Teruzuki’s Approach and Assist Team interacting with local mariners.

Since March there have been several attacks on vessels off the Somali coast. This increase in potential pirate activity prompted CTF151 to develop a closer understanding of fishermen and other mariners transiting these waters, particularly those in the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and the Socotra Gap between the Horn of Africa and the Socotra Islands.

Acting as a deterrent force against any further pirate activity, CTF151 forces operated across the region for two weeks from 14 May. The operation drew to a close with the onset of the monsoon season, with deteriorating weather reducing the potential for pirates to operate.

JS TERUZUKI's AA Team passing out MEPS to mariners 1Image: JS Teruzuki’s Approach and Assist Team interacting with local mariners.

During the fortnight, one of the ships in the task force, JS Teruzuki, responded to a Mayday call from a dhow off Puntland. The ship’s helicopter was launched to assist, as the dhow neared the coast. Local security forces were alerted, taking control of the situation and ensuring the dhow crew’s safety. Commenting on the actions of the Ship’s crew, Commander CTF151, Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF said: “That JS Teruzuki was able to launch her helicopter and maintain communication with both the dhow and the Puntland security forces was due to planning and a growing understanding of mariners needs in the region.”

PNS SAIF and JS TERUZUKI exchange greetings by using SEMAPHORE, when RDVUImage: PNS SAIF and JS Teruzuki exchange greetings.

The focus of Operation ‘Samurai Sword’ was interaction with local commercial traffic. The discussions aimed to build understanding with the maritime community and confidence that CTF151 is present in the region for the protection of all legitimate mariners. This knowledge will enhance the abilities of counter piracy forces in the future.

On completion, Rear Admiral Fukuda added: “This was an opportunity for CTF151 to work closely with our counter piracy partners, developing our knowledge of seafarers in the region and reassuring the maritime community.”

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