01 April 2011
RSN personnel working alongside the crew of USS Mason in the Combat Information Centre of the USS Mason. (photo : Mindef)
To curb the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, Singapore stepped to the fore for the second time to helm the coalition anti-piracy task force Combined Task Force (CTF) 151.
At a simple ceremony on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS Cornwall in Djibouti on 31 Mar, Commodore Abdul Aleem of the Pakistan Navy handed over command of CTF 151 to Rear-Admiral (RADM) Harris Chan of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
Commander Combined Maritime Forces Vice-Admiral (VADM) Mark Fox and Singapore's Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Ng Chee Peng were present to witness the ceremony.
Over the next three months, RADM Chan will lead the command team of 25 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel and five officers from Indonesia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia, to coordinate operations to disrupt piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
The team, which will operate from the United States Navy destroyer, USSMason, will work closely with task forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the European Union as well as with navies from other countries assigned to protect national vessels operating in the Gulf.
This cooperation will enable CTF 151 to cover an area of approximately 1.1 million square miles (2.5 million sq km) in the Gulf of Aden, where pirates have been wreaking havoc.
RSAF Fokker 50 MPA (photo : XAirforces)
At the ceremony, RADM Chan said: "We are honoured to take over command of CTF 151 for the second time at the invitation of the Combined Maritime Forces. The Gulf of Aden remains a key sea lane that depends on international cooperation to keep it safe for everyone"s use.
"My command team has spent the last few months preparing, planning and training for this mission. We are committed and focused on our mission to disrupt piracy in the Gulf of Aden."
When asked what challenges the command team expects to face, RADM Chan told cyberpioneer: "We're at the tail end of the northeast monsoon, so we expect the pirates to take advantage of the calm seas to attack merchant ships in the area.
"However, we are familiar with their tactics and have developed a very robust concept of operations to deal with this threat."
Singapore's first CTF 151 command stint, headed by RADM Bernard Miranda, successfully concluded in April last year.
Since 2009, the SAF has deployed two Task Groups, each comprising a Landing Ship Tank and two helicopters, from April to July 2009 and June to October 2010 to the Gulf of Aden.
Come April, the SAF will deploy a Fokker-50 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to perform maritime air surveillance in the Gulf until July this year.