>International Staff Of CTF-151

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RADM Ertuğrul, the previous commander of CTF-151
and his flag staff

This is from the US 5th Fleet CMF web site and show the international nature of the anti piracy forces very well.

For the past three months the Turkish Navy was at the helm of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), the multi-national counter-piracy mission of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).


A small but dedicated team of international naval personnel was embarked aboard the flagship TCG Gaziantep to join task force commander Rear Admiral Sinan Ertugrul and his command staff, the majority of whom were drawn from the Turkish Navy, with the more senior officers having attended the prestigious naval college in Istanbul.

“The flag staff are essentially a floating headquarters,” said Captain Rafet Oktar, the CTF-151 Chief of Staff charged with bringing together the various command and control functions. “We coordinate the various elements of the task force such as ships and aircraft, we plan current and future operations and we provide specialist advice to the Commander.”

RADM Ertugrul said “I was proud to lead an international staff, at the head of an international task force, patrolling international waters. CTF-151 is effective as a force for good in the region precisely because of our mutual understanding, cooperation and shared commitment to tackling the serious problem of piracy.

“My international staff added to the diversity of my command team through the backgrounds, experience and abilities they each brought with them. In turn, it was also an opportunity them to hone their skills further through cooperation with my Turkish staff.”

Click here for the whole text.

Obviously Turkish Navy is benefiting from taking part in anti piracy operations in many ways:

  • First and foremost Turkish Navy is offering protection and comfort to the Turkish ships and crews passing through the regions.
  • Turkish Navy is gaining know-how on commanding multinational staffed task forces that operate away from the home waters in.
  • Turkish Navy is fulfilling its share in international naval operations thus showing other nations that it is a serious partner in such cases and developing bilateral cooperation.
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>A Terrorist Threat In The Eastern Mediterranean

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This is new and disturbing news:

The blogger Eagle1 who has specialized in maritime security and has a strong connection to US Navy and Us juridical sources bloged that there is a potential terrorist threat to the ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

A terrorist threat is currently applying on vessels located in the eastern Mediterranean, East of longitude 033°30’E.

Ships are urged to remain alert, travel at higher speeds and avoid closing small craft.

Although he does not mention his source for this warning explicitly, he says that it is reliable. The lack of precise information about the type and source of the threat does not help us to grasp the significance of the situation.

The area mentioned in this warning covers the whole coast of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Plus it covers the Port of Mersin and Bay of Iskenderun. The importance of Bay of Iskenderun is increasing everyday as it is becoming a main energy hub. Two weeks ago the one billionth barrel of oil was pumped from Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and was loaded on the 1275th tanker – the Nippon Princess.

The port is Mersin is one of the major ports of Eastern Med and is a natural gateway to Southeast Anatolia and to Iraq.

Turkish Navy started the Operation Mediterranean Shield since April 2006. The main operational aims of Operation Mediterranean Shield are:
– To establish transportation safety of inbound and outbound tankers to Ceyhan Oil terminal and indirectly contributing to global energy security
– To ensure deterrence against possible risks and threats in the region
– To support the regional maritime safety efforts of NATO

Thus I hope that this warning is not directed to Turkey.

The more information we will get about this situation the more complete will our situational awareness.

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