Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) handed over command of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) to the Turkish Navy after conducting a change of command ceremony, June 29.
Rear Amiral Emre Sezenler Turkish Navy assumed command of CTF151 from Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF on 29 June 2017 at a ceremony at CMF headquarters in Bahrain. The ceremony was presided over by Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan USN, Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander US Fifth Fleet and Commander Combined Maritime Forces.
Japan was represented at the ceremony by Director General of Operations Department, Japan Joint Staff Office, Lieutenant General Yutaka Masuko JASDF and Deputy Chief of Missions for the Japanese Embassy Mr Daisuke Yamamoto. Vice Admiral ?ükrü Korlu, Commander of Northern Sea Area Command and Her Excellency Hatun Demirer, the Ambassador of Turkey to Bahrain, represented Turkey.
The principal mission of CTF151 is to deter piracy and armed robbery in the maritime environment across an area of almost 3.2 million square miles, encompassing the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Southern Red Sea. During the next four months the Turkish team will continue the work to deter pirates, reassure legitimate users of the high seas and facilitate the free flow of commerce across the area of operations.
Following an increase in piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia over recent months, CTF151 has worked in close coordination with the European Union’s task force, CTF465, and independent nations to patrol the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and regional waters, protecting shipping and deterring pirates. CTF151 has developed a clearer understanding of regional maritime activities and, on a number of occasions, provided valuable assistance to mariners in distress.
Rear Admiral Fukuda undertook an extensive Key Leader Engagement (KLE) programme, travelling to Djibouti, Seychelles, Pakistan, UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. His meetings strengthened relations, developed opportunities for capacity building and improved information exchange opportunities.
On handing over command, Rear Admiral Fukuda said: “It has been an honor to command CTF151 over the last four months, leading a multi-national team from 11 nations.” He added: “I wish Rear Admiral Sezenler all the best during his tenure and look forward to hearing of his great success in command of CTF151.”
On assuming command, Rear Admiral Sezenler said: “I really would like to take the time here to extend my heartfelt appreciation for a job very well done. You have demonstrated exemplary skills to ensure the continued success of CTF 151. I wish you and your staff a safe trip back home and to your loved ones”, this is the fifth time that Turkey has led CTF 151 and in his speech Rear Admiral Sezenler said that “Turkey has always supported the multi-national force and its mission remains committed to international peace and support operations.”
He concluded his speech by saying: “We cannot be complacent and must keep up the operational tempo against piracy. The units under my command will continue its counter-piracy mission with the same enthusiasm as previous commands in order to ensure the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the region.”