A multinational task force launches a mission to secure the seas between Yemen and Somalia
UNIPATH STAFF | photos by COMBINED MARITIME FORCES
Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, under the command of Commodore Yusuf Almannaie of the Royal Bahrain Navy, launched a counterpiracy mission called Operation Hamad in February 2018 to deter criminals on the waters between Yemen and Somalia.
The multinational task force, bolstered by a unit from Oman, is cooperating with a ship from the European Union’s Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR) to establish a strong naval presence in the Gulf of Aden, the Socotra Gap and the waters near Somalia.
Commodore Almannaie stressed the need not just to suppress piracy but to build cooperation among multinational units and between military and merchant vessels operating in high-risk areas.
Although Somali piracy declined after peaking in 2011, thanks to the combined efforts of global naval forces, Gulf Cooperation Council nations want to preserve the peace with continuing deterrence.
“The coordination expected to be achieved during Operation Hamad will again prove that we are stronger and ready together,” said Commodore Almannaie, who commanded the task force from November 2017 to February 2018.
Planners labored to ensure the best use of limited naval resources in counterpiracy operations. This includes tapping into nonmilitary resources such as commercial shipping networks with vast experience in these troubled waters.
In the lead-up to Operation Hamad, Commodore Almannaie’s task force also conducted engagements with various Gulf Cooperation countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
CTF 151 is part of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). Two other combined task forces — CTF 150 and 152 — broaden the geographical range of the CMF to include the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
Thousands of trading vessels ply these waters every day, including tankers carrying vital oil to export markets through the Straits of Hormuz. But the traffic also includes drug and weapons smugglers and other criminals.
CTF 150 logged a notable triumph in February 2018. A coalition ship from Pakistan called the Aslat seized 5 tons of hashish from a dhow sailing in the Arabian Sea, bringing to $1 billion the value of narcotics seized in just two months.
In Operation Hamad, CTF 151 and EUNAVFOR are taking their relationship to a new level with a common goal of reducing piracy. Naval leaders noted that each organization possesses unique strengths and capabilities.
For example, CMF is bolstering the mission by providing air power to help patrol the waters between Yemen and Somalia. Information will also be drawn from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operation, an organization through which merchant vessels can voluntarily report their activities to naval fleets tasked with protecting them.
A similar organization affiliated with the European Union — Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa — provides 24-hour monitoring of merchant vessels passing near the Horn of Africa. Source: Combined Maritime Forces