Royal Navy Assumes Command of CTF IM
Dispatches from the Front:
MANAMA, Bahrain, May 8, 2009 -- Royal Navy Commodore James Morse relieved Rear Adm. T.C. Cropper as Commander Task Force Iraqi Maritime (CTF IM) during a change of command ceremony today aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
This marks the first change of command for CTF IM, since the task force’s establishment in January of this year.
“I am delighted to be leading a UK-U.S. team as CTF IM,” said Morse. “We have a vital role to play in assisting Iraqi forces with security in their territorial waters, and we look forward to building on the excellent work of Rear Adm. Cropper and his staff.”
Previously known as Combined Task Force 158, CTF IM is a joint UK-U.S. naval force operating in the North Arabian Gulf, which helps provide maritime security. Its roles are to assist with protecting Iraq’s offshore oil platforms and training Iraqi forces. These tasks are vital to the continuing development of the Iraqi economy and to stability in the area.
CTF IM consists of a range of naval forces, including destroyers or frigates, support ships, aircraft and patrol vessels.
In a separate ceremony on the Al Basrah Oil Terminal, Capt. Keith Blount, Royal Navy, relieved Capt. Karl Van Deusen USN and assumed responsibility as the on-scene commander for CTF IM which is responsible for providing security to the oil platforms.
“The oil platforms are essential to Iraq’s prosperity, and my UK-U.S. task group will work closely with our Iraqi colleagues to provide assistance as they continue to develop their already impressive maritime security capabilities,” said Blount.
U.S. and UK forces have maintained a presence in the North Arabian Gulf since 2003, assisting the Iraqi Navy by helping provide security to their oil platforms, which account for approximately 70 to 85 percent of Iraq’s revenue.
Coalition forces have operated jointly with Iraqi Navy sailors and marines, training them in point-defence force protection and visit, board, search and seizure operations.
The U.S. and UK will continue to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the North Arabian Gulf and provide assistance as requested. MSO help set the conditions for security, which promotes stability and prosperity in the North Arabian Gulf. These operations protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure. MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt illegal use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
(Report by Lt. Simon Bellamy, Royal Navy, CTF IM Media Officer.)
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