Australian-led Maritime Counter-Terrorism Task Force home from successful deployment

This article has photo gallery Published on MAJ B Maddock (author), MC2 Ryan D. McLearnon (photographer)

Location(s): Manama, Bahrain

Topic(s): Drug interdiction, Counter-terrorism

Commander CMF, Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan, US Navy (centre) witnesses Royal Navy Commodore Robinson (right) assume command of CTF 150 from Royal Australian Navy Commodore Jaimie Hatcher. (photo: MC2 Ryan D. McLearnon)
Commander CMF, Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan, US Navy (centre) witnesses Royal Navy Commodore Robinson (right) assume command of CTF 150 from Royal Australian Navy Commodore Jaimie Hatcher.

An Australian-led Maritime Command team has been hailed for their success against the illegal trade of drugs and weapons in the Middle East and northern Indian Ocean as part of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces.

The praise followed the handover of command for Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 by the Australian and Canadian contingent to the Royal Navy at a ceremony at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain on 10 April 2016.

The four-month deployment to CTF 150, one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces, saw 21 Australians and seven Canadians command aircraft and warships involved in maritime counter-terrorism operations, disrupting the trafficking of illicit material used to fund international terrorism.

Outgoing Commander - CTF 150, Commodore Jaimie Hatcher said it had been a privilege to command the headquarters, whose highlights included multiple narcotic seizures totalling 399kg of Afghan heroin.  

“The focused operation on the Makran Coast using United States Patrol Boats, Australian, French, Pakistani, American and British major fleet units and a range of maritime patrol aircraft has paid dividends,” Commodore Hatcher said.

“This coordination of the myriad of assets available to Combined Maritime Forces with regional military and law enforcement agencies is the key to long term success." 

Commodore Hatcher said HMAS Melbourne made three successful drug interdictions while assigned to CTF 150, adding to the interceptions made by other assigned vessels. CTF 150 warships also made successful illicit weapons seizures.

“The seizures made by HMAS Darwin and FS (French Ship) Provence prevented assault rifles, machineguns, mortars and rocket - more than 4000 weapons in total - from reaching the hands of terrorists,” he said.

Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston paid tribute to the Command team, highlighting CTF 150’s efforts in supporting CMF and international and regional law enforcement agencies.

“Coordination amongst the nations and specifically the relationship we have with our Royal Canadian Navy colleagues ensured CTF 150 disrupted the use of the maritime environment for activities that undermine regional security,” Vice Admiral Johnston said. 

“They have ascertained how to best support law enforcement agencies bordering the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea. I congratulate this latest rotation on improving maritime security in the region.”