by Des Ryan
It's finally happened, and it's good news for cruising sailors heading for the Red Sea.
Ships assigned to Combined Task Force One Five Zero (CTF-150) assemble in a formation for a photo exercise.
Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, the multi-national force that has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden as part 'War on Terror' for years, will now patrol a 'maritime security patrol area' in the waters between the coasts of Somalia and Yemen with the focus on ridding the area of pirates, and are asking cruising convoys to contact them.
The critical difference is that, owing to a decision of the United Nations, foreign ships will be allowed to pursue pirates into Somali waters and perhaps into Somalia itself.
U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain announced the establishment of the 'maritime security patrol area' and that it would be patrolled by the allied naval forces.
Cmdr. Jane Campbell, public affairs officer at 5th Fleet, said the patrol area could be described roughly as a rectangular shape over the Gulf of Aden, with a constant allied naval presence.
'The number (of ships) will vary, but we’ll have ships on station,' Cmdr Campbell said. 'This is not a long-term solution; it’s a short-term, focused operation.'
Along with surface patrols, shore-based aircraft and shipborne helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles also will keep a weather eye on the Gulf of Aden.
CTF 150, set up under Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, includes naval forces from France, Germany, Pakistan, the U.S., the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and other allied nations. The task force is responsible for maritime security from the Red Sea down the east coast of Africa and into the Arabian Sea toward Pakistan and India, until the area of responsibility shifts to Pacific Fleet forces.
Operations will now focus on combating piracy and interdicting weapons smuggling, human trafficking and drug-running.
The new campaign will provide a 'concentrated look' at who comes and goes in the area, Campbell said, with forces constantly on watch for hijackers.
The campaign also focuses on what happens ashore in those situations, she said, such as how money is transferred for ransoms.
The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy at sea around the world, issued to mariners an Aug. 26 warning of increased activity in the Gulf of Aden because four ships had been hijacked in the previous two days.
Important Note for Cruisers intending to transit the Gulf of Aden in the coming season:
Through the good services of Noonsite , the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) would like to be kept informed of convoys of yachts passing through the area. Please click here to access the Noonsite information
Source: Navy Times