It’s been smooth sailing for the Australian and Canadian personnel of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) as they reach the half-way point of their deployment.
Australia assumed command of CTF 150 on December 8, 2015, under the command of Commodore (CDRE) Jaimie Hatcher.
CDRE Hatcher leads a team of 28 – 18 Royal Australian Navy, one Australian Army, one Defence civilian and one Australian Federal Police officer – and seven Canadian Navy personnel.
CTF 150 is based at the Naval Support Activity in Manama, Bahrain, and is responsible for counter-terrorism and counter-smuggling operations at sea in the Middle East.
Commander (CMDR) Gerry Savvakis, Operations Officer, said the CTF 150 team had settled into a steady battle rhythm.
“Our operations have focused on denying the exploitation of the maritime environment in our area of operations by those who perpetrate or enable terrorist acts,” he said.
“HMAS Melbourne worked very hard during her deployment and had three narcotics seizures under the latest Australian command of CTF 150, all which have denied funds for terrorism.”
CTF 150 is one of several task forces under the control of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) based in Bahrain, which undertakes a range of maritime security operations in the region.
It’s area of operations spans 2.5 million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, the North Arabian Sea and Western Indian Ocean. HMAS Darwin recently replaced Melbourne as Australia’s Major Fleet Unit in the region.
CMDR Savvakis said the US‑led CMF now comprised 31 nations with the recent addition of Iraq as a fully-fledged member of the multi-national force on 2 February 2016.
“All the nations contribute to CMF with either ships, aircraft or personnel to support operations,” he said.
“In the recent months we have been working with ships from France, the United States, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and Canada in our combined counter-terrorism effort.”
CMDR Savvakis said maintaining the relationships and communication across CMF was a constant challenge in CTF 150 operations.
“We deal with many different cultures and methods of doing business when dealing with people from the 31 nations,” he said.
“Our regional engagement helps to promote maritime peace and stability, and enhances the existing level of cooperation between the regional nations and CMF.”
The Australians and Canadians will hand over CTF 150 to a Royal Navy command in April, 2016. The team will consist of United Kingdom, Canadian and Saudi Arabian personnel.