As monsoon season ended in the Gulf of Aden, the Pakistan Navy joined a multinational flotilla in November 2020 to deter piracy in critical shipping lanes.
Operation Shamal engaged several naval partners from Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain. Pakistan Navy ship Zulfiquar joined ships from South Korea and Japan to patrol waters between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.
The Zulfiquar worked closely with a South Korean ship on a passing exercise designed to test interoperability between the two navies in times of crisis. Pakistan is a member of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which patrols the Arabian Seas for terrorists, smugglers and other criminals. South Korea participates in Combined Task Force 151 in the Gulf of Aden.
“Operation Shamal was conducted to demonstrate to potential pirates and sponsors of piracy that there is a significant military force in the region that would deal with any attempted piracy attack,” said CTF 151 Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Yoo Sanghun of South Korea.
The calming of winds and seas between monsoon seasons signals an expansion in oceangoing commerce while thousands of fishing vessels and trading dhows appear off the coasts of nations such as Yemen and Oman. That increases the danger of maritime violations.
“We are also here to reassure our partners on merchant ships that despite the increase in small boat activity, the military is there to respond,” Lt. Cmdr. Yoo said.
The Royal Navy of Oman also played a key role in alerting merchant vessels to the presence of warships during Operation Shamal. A Pakistani helicopter joined other nations, including those from the European Union, in providing maritime patrol aircraft to monitor sea lanes for potential pirates.
“It is always pleasing when we are able to grow our capability by having so many countries operating closely together, whether it’s patrol aircraft and warships tactically maneuvering together or nation states coordinating their navies and coast guards to deliver freedom of navigation,” said CTF 151 Commander Rear Adm. Nejat Inanir of the Turkish Navy.
Pakistan’s contribution to multinational naval coalitions is expected to continue with the recent appointment of a new chief of naval staff. Adm. Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi was sworn into office in October 2020.
Sources: Hilal magazine, Combined Maritime Forces