USS VELLA GULF At Sea (NNS) -- On Feb. 4, USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) became the flagship of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, a multinational task force conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) assumed the role in January and served as the flagship for Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, commander, CTF 151, before the admiral transferred his flag and staff to the guided-missile destroyer.
"San Antonio did an amazing job as the first CTF 151 flagship," said McKnight. "Her crew and capabilities meshed with the embarked command staff and several other units from day one, which allowed us to be very effective conducting counterpiracy operations."
"Our Navy and Coast Guard boarding teams were able to train together, the helo detachment provided passenger movements between platforms and overwatch for our boarding teams, and our fleet surgical team was always ready to be called upon," McKnight continued.
"Through it all, we worked with our partners to promote the free flow of commerce in the maritime environment. I have no doubt Vella Gulf will take up the torch and do just as well in her support of maritime security operations."
The CTF 151 flagship transition to Vella Gulf brings a fresh crew of Sailors who will assume the responsibilities of the mission. The multi-mission platform provides unique and valuable capabilities to the task force charged with detecting and deterring piracy in the region.
"We are very strong in developing and maintaining a recognized maritime picture (RMP) because of our training during workups as the Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group Sea Combat Commander, and we will be able to use this experience during the counterpiracy mission," said Capt. Mark Genung, Vella Gulf's commanding officer.
He added that the air detachment on board which flies the SH-60B helicopter brings an "unparalleled" organic capability to detect and identify potential pirate ships and skiffs beyond the line of sight of the ship.
"On board Vella Gulf I have significant radar, [signal intelligence] and electro-optical capabilities that, coupled with my SH-60B, provide Rear Admiral McKnight the best possible RMP. We're also capable of providing a broad spectrum of kinetic and non-kinetic options to CTF 151."
For more news from Combined Task Force 151, visit www.navy.mil/local/CTF-151/.