Thursday, August 13, 2009

Counter Piracy Task Force CTF 151 Changes Command

Bahrain (Aug. 13, 2009) U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Scott Sanders salutes the side boys as he arrives to relieve Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Caner Bener as Commander, Task Force (CTF) 151 during a change of command ceremony held aboard USS Anzio (CG 68). Bener commanded the counter-piracy task force May 3 to August 13, which was also the first time Turkey has commanded a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task force. Established in January 2009, CTF 151 is a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. (Official U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer.)

Dispatches from the Front:

MANAMA, Bahrain, Aug. 13, 2009 -- U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Scott Sanders assumed command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 in a ceremony held aboard the coalition counter-piracy flagship USS Anzio (CG 68) while pier-side in Bahrain today. Rear Adm. Scott relieved Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Caner Bener and heralded the Turkish Navy's first command of a CTF as a success.

"Rear Adm. Bener and his staff of Turkish, U.S., Pakistani, Greek and UK Sailors have made huge strides, not only in combating piracy, but also in fostering international coordination and the relationships that are crucial to the mission," said Sanders. "The capture of 17 armed and dangerous men and their mother ship, the first pirate mother ship ever captured, demonstrated the ability of CTF 151 to effectively execute counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia."

Sanders assumed command of a CTF 151 staff made up of coalition personnel from varied nations, which "has demonstrated how a staff comprised of personnel from multiple nations can form a cohesive team to tackle piracy" said Sanders.

The Turkish Navy assumed command of CTF 151 in early May, relieving U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Howard and her staff following the successful rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips of the U.S.-flagged merchant vessel Maersk Alabama.

"As a result of cooperative counter-piracy operations there has been a considerable decrease in piracy activities in the region," said Bener. "The most effective measures we've seen to defeat piracy are non-kinetic and defensive in nature."

"Commercial shipping cannot underestimate their own power to prevent and defend against pirate attacks," he added.

CTF 151 was created in January 2009 to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. It operates in the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia, covering an area of approximately 1.1 million square miles.

"While the ultimate solution to the problem of piracy is ashore in Somalia, the combined maritime force made the decision to focus coalition maritime efforts on security and stability at sea in order to create a lawful maritime order and deter acts of piracy on the high seas while giving the international community time to address the long-term solution of piracy," said Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Combined Maritime Forces.

Sanders is the first selected reserve admiral to command a Combined Task Force at sea.

(Report by Lt. Iain Jones, Royal Navy, Public Affairs Office, CMF.)

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