Monday, February 23, 2009

Turkey, Singapore Join CTF 151 Counterpiracy Efforts

Dispatches from the Front
News from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet Combined Maritime Forces.

Dispatches from the Front:

AT SEA ABOARD USS VELLA GULF, Feb. 23, 2009 -- Turkey and Singapore recently committed forces to join Combined Task Force 151, a naval coalition dedicated to conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Turkey and Singapore will join other nations -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Denmark -- that have conducted operations as part of the task force.

"Coalition ships are a critical part of our mission," U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, commander of CTF 151, said. "The very nature of some of our operations, as well as the success of those operations, is often predicated on our ability to work effectively with our partners and allies."

International law obligates all nations to cooperate to the fullest extent in the repression of piracy. Coalition forces have taken action necessary to repress piracy in the region in accordance with international law to ensure free and secure use of the world's oceans by legitimate mariners, task force officials said.

"The presence of international navy vessels in the region demonstrates our commitment to regional security and stability," McKnight said. "To continue to counter and deter destabilizing activities successfully, coalition efforts must be complemented by proactive measures by commercial shippers, regional governments and the international community."

The task force has worked with and emphasized the important role merchants can play by taking proactive measures to prevent boardings, such as traveling at speeds greater than 15 knots, reporting suspicious activity and pulling their ladders up to prevent access to the ships.

Even with increased naval forces in the region, coalition vessels have not always been close enough to a help a ship that was being attacked.

"The bottom line is that piracy is an international problem that requires an international solution," McKnight said. "We are committed to continuing operations that counter and deter piracy and other destabilizing activities in the maritime arena to create a lawful maritime order."

(Report by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monique K. Hilley, 5th Fleet public affairs office.)

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