The pre-deployment preparations and training for the Australian lead Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 mission wrapped up at HMAS Watson recently, with the task group getting a stamp of approval from the Commodore Flotillas Force Generation Directorate.
The Royal Australian, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy sailors making up the Combined Task Force spent six weeks in Sydney getting ready for the important mission, to ensure they were certified ‘ready in all respects’ to deploy to Bahrain.
CTF 150, headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain, is one of three combined task forces within the Combined Maritime Force (CMF).
The 33 member nations of CMF work together to strengthen maritime security in the Middle East Region, conducting maritime security operations, capacity building activities, and regional engagement.
The sailors came together in Sydney as a group of strangers in late September. But after four weeks of working together to get up to speed and develop processes and procedures, they had become a solid team, speaking the same language regardless of where the individual members had come from.
The preparation for the mission was put to the test over two weeks of Mission Readiness Evaluations at the Naval Synthetic Warfighting Centre at HMAS Watson.
The team was put through its paces in an operations centre designed to mimic the one they will use throughout their deployment.
The scenarios used were real world examples from previous missions.
All of that realism, a compressed timeline, and an experienced training staff that had previously deployed on a CTF 150 mission, made for an intense training environment.
As part of the training program, Commodore Mal Wise, the CTF 150 Commander when Australia lead the task force in in 2017/18, paid a visit during the Mission Readiness Evaluation.
“The purpose of this mission is maintain and enhance maritime security in the region,” Commodore Wise said.
“At the same time, it’s critical to maintain and enhance the reputation of our respective countries and navies with our allies, partners, and even adversaries in this complex area of operations.
Looking at this team, I have full confidence that you’re going to hit all of your mission objectives,” he said.
In late November, the staff will deploy to Naval Security Activity Bahrain, a US Navy base in the city of Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
In early December, they will take over from the team from the United Kingdom and France and direct ships from participating countries to seek out and seize drug shipments and other illicit cargo that fund terrorist operations in the region and around the world.
CTF 150 will also engage with other countries in the region to help build relationships that support the mission and build capacity.
Following the Mission Readiness Evaluation, the incoming Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Ray Leggatt, said he was impressed to the team’s commitment and attitude towards its mission preparations.
“It’s really inspiring to see what this group has been able to accomplish in a little over a month,” Commodore Leggatt said.
“We wanted to be able to arrive in theatre and avoid some of the growing pains you find at the beginning of a mission.
“That means, as much as possible, we had to try and have those growing pains here before we left.
“This team came together quickly and worked every problem we could come up with.
“I’m very happy with the results and I’m excited to get to Bahrain and get this mission started,” Commodore Leggatt said.