MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 held a change of command ceremony aboard the coalition counterpiracy flagship USS Anzio (CG 68) while pierside in Bahrain Aug. 13.
Rear Adm. Scott Sanders relieved Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Caner Bener and heralded the Turkish Navy's first command of a CTF as a success.
"Rear Admiral Bener and his staff of Turkish, U.S., Pakistani, Greek and U.K. 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 seventeen armed and dangerous men and their mother ship, the first pirate mother ship ever captured, demonstrated the ability of CTF 151 to effectively execute counterpiracy 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. Michelle 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 counterpiracy 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 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 Adm. 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.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.