BAHRAIN, Manama (NNS) -- Since the inception of the Maritime Security Patrol Area (MSPA), Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has helped deter more than a dozen attacks in the Gulf of Aden. However, criminals have still successfully targeted several vessels in the region.
The Maritime Security Patrol Area was established Aug. 22 in support of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) call for international assistance to discourage attacks on commercial vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden.
The MSPA is a geographic area in the Gulf of Aden utilized by Combined Maritime Forces to focus their efforts against destabilizing activities. These activities include, but are not limited to: criminal activities, drug smuggling operations that support terrorist and violent extremist organizations and human smuggling. Coalition forces patrol the MSPA, which is not marked or defined by visual navigational means, on a routine basis.
Initially under Canadian Commodore Bob Davidson's leadership, CTF 150 ships are now commanded by Danish Royal Navy Commodore Per Bigum Christensen.
"Coalition maritime efforts will give the IMO time to work international efforts that will ultimately lead to a long-term solution," said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, Combined Maritime Forces.
"This is a problem that starts ashore and requires an international solution. We made this clear at the outset - our efforts cannot guarantee safety in the region. Our part in preventing some of these destabilizing activities is only one part of the solution to preventing further attacks."
"Mariners must remain vigilant," said Christensen, CTF-150's commander. "A ship's master and her crew are the first line of defense for their own ship."
This fact has been highlighted by merchant mariners who have been able to take effective proactive measures to defend their vessels. Such measures have included deterring attacks simply by keeping a sharp lookout for suspicious small boats operating in the vicinity of their ships, increasing speed and maneuvering to avoid small craft, and even repelling would-be boarders with water from fire hoses.
Gortney also suggested that the shipping industry must consider hiring security teams for their vessels.
"The coalition does not have the resources to provide 24-hour protection for the vast number of merchant vessels in the region. The shipping companies must take measures to defend their vessels and their crews."
CTF 150 is a multinational task force that that conducts Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was created to counter terrorism, prevent smuggling, create a lawful maritime order and conduct MSO to help develop security in the maritime environment.
MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seeks to disrupt violent extremist use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. Through training opportunities with regional partners, CTF 150 enhances existing cooperative relationships which aim to support regional countries' struggles against violent extremism.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.