By Navy Seaman Chad R. Erdmann
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 27, 2009 - As part of Combined Task Force 151, the crew of guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan is coordinating efforts of more than a dozen nations operating in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The region's Combined Maritime Forces established CTF 151, a multinational counter-piracy task force, earlier in the month to create a lawful maritime order.
"In our first two weeks on patrol, we have coordinated and deconflicted our efforts with a host of other navies," Navy Cmdr. Steve Murphy, commanding officer of USS Mahan, said. "Though we sail under different flags and command arrangements, we share a common goal of promoting maritime security in the region.
"Under the guidance of CTF 151, we are sharing information and applying lessons learned; and in my estimation, we are making a difference," he said.
Naval ships and assets from more than 20 nations have been invited to join CTF 151.
"Piracy is a pernicious problem that has been going on in this region for quite some time," Murphy said. "We understand that our efforts alone cannot guarantee safety in the region. It is a broad international effort and
includes promising actions taken by the commercial shipping industry to protect themselves, and ongoing efforts to establish stability ashore."
In August, the Combined Maritime Forces, with headquarters in Bahrain, created the maritime security patrol area in the Gulf of Aden to support international efforts to combat piracy. This helps channel the shipping activity and maximizes the efforts of the combined naval activity, concentrating counter-piracy activities within a specific maritime corridor.
"As part of CTF 151, Mahan's mission is to safeguard the free flow of commerce by deterring and disrupting piracy," Murphy said. "The officers and crew of Mahan are well trained, and they are dedicated to providing maritime safety and security as part of a broad international effort."
The Mahan crew monitors maritime traffic, performs routine queries of vessels and conducts visit, board, search and seizure operations.
"[We are] proud to be among the first units to support the CTF 151 mission," Murphy said. "The crew works hard each day to protect the constant flow of merchant traffic through this volatile region and is prepared to act against suspected pirates and bring them to justice."
(Navy Seaman Chad R. Erdmann serves in the Combined Task Force 151 public affairs office.)