Commodore Ray Leggatt, the Royal Australian Navy’s present Commander of the international Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 150 travelled to Mumbai, India and Colombo, Sri Lanka recently to discuss maritime security in the Indian Ocean with key leaders, and explore opportunities for collaboration and cooperation.
Although not members of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), India and Sri Lanka are important to the deepening of security partnerships, ensuring the region’s security and stability, and the work with UN partners to develop a global response to maritime security challenges.
Commodore Leggatt said the countries were vital to addressing the security challenges in the Indian Ocean region because it's their ‘backyard’.
“The sharing of information, cooperation at sea, and opportunities to train and share best practices are vital to promoting security in the Indian Ocean and that is something that benefits us all,” Commodore Leggatt said.
“Strengthening relationships with Indian Ocean countries with vested interests in promoting security and stability in the maritime domain is one of the primary objectives of Combined Task Force 150’s mission,” he said.
Commodore Leggatt’s visit to Mumbai coincided with a port visit by HMAS Toowoomba, which came alongside the Indian city on its way to the Middle East region to conduct a deployment in support of CTF 150.
Commodore Leggatt met with the Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command, Indian Navy, Vice Admiral RB Pandit and was accompanied by Toowoomba Commanding Officer Commander Mitchell Livingstone.
In Columbo, Commodore Leggatt met with Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Chief of the Sri Lankan Navy and Mr Alan Cole, Head of the Global Maritime Crime Program with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
At the Sri Lankan Naval Headquarters, Vice Admiral De Silva hosted a round table discussion on maritime security where Commodore Leggatt was joined by Commander Grant Coleman, CTF150 Operations Officer, and Australian Defence Advisor to Sri Lanka, Group Captain Sean Unwin.
Discussion focused on identifying trans-shipment points, challenges to maritime security in the region, and opportunities for cooperation and training.
Supported by Royal Canadian and Royal New Zealand Navy staff, the Royal Australian Navy assumed command of CTF 150 in early December 2019.
France’s Marine Nationale will take over command this month.
Through maritime security operations, regional engagements, and capacity building activities, CTF 150 works to deter and deny terrorist organisations freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain, impacting their use of the high seas for smuggling illicit cargo including narcotics, UN-embargoed weapons, and Somali charcoal.
CTF 150 is one of three combined task forces that make up CMF, the 33-nation force aligned in common purpose to conduct Maritime Security Operations in the wider Gulf region in order to provide security and stability in the maritime environment.