Australia Takes Command of Combined Task Force CTF-150

Pakistan navy Rear Adm. Zafar Mahmood Abbasi turned over command of Combined Task Force 150 to Commodore Gregory Sammut of the Royal Australian navy during a change of command ceremony here. CTF-150 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces, a 25-nation coalition based in Bahrain.

The task force works to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities across an area of two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. "It is a privilege to be entrusted with Australia’s second command of CTF-150," Sammut said after the ceremony. "My team and I look forward to building on the outstanding achievements of Rear Admiral Abbasi and his staff, and working closely alongside our CMF partners and regional friends to promote security and stability throughout the surrounding maritime domain."

The task force's main mission is to deter, disrupt and defeat attempts by international terrorist organizations to use the maritime environment as a venue for an attack or as a means to transport personnel, weapons and other materials. This is done by conducting maritime security operations. CTF-150 vessels also assist mariners in distress and perform humanitarian assistance missions as required. CTF-150 is a multinational task force. Participatory nations have included: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, and Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This is the second time that Australia has led CTF-150. Commodore Richard Menhinick of the Royal Australian navy commanded the task force . The change of command ceremony concluded the Pakistan navy’s fourth successful command of CTF-150. Abbasi said the task force has come a long way since it was established near the start of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The task force "is a coherent force that is able to respond effectively to the challenges it faces," Abbasi said. "Command of CTF-150 for the fourth time is a manifestation of the Pakistan navy’s continued commitment to support coalition efforts to maintain peace and lawful maritime order at sea," he continued. “We feel proud for having contributed wholeheartedly, and to the best of our abilities, to advance the cause of maritime security in the region that undoubtedly is vital for the economic prosperity and well being of the world at large."

During his six-month command tenure, Abbasi commanded a range of ships from CMF member nations, including Australia, France, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the United States. The admiral also visited a number of littoral countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Jordon to strengthen relations with CTF-150.