Royal Navy to take charge of Combined Task Force 150

Royal Navy personnel from HMS Excellent, a shore establishment of the Navy, will head to the Arabian Gulf where they will assume command of the Combined Task Force 150 next month.

Part of Combined Maritime Forces, Combined Task Force 150 is policing more than two million square miles of sea on the lookout for vessels smuggling weapons and drugs which either fund or support terrorism.

Earlier this month the Royal Australian Navy’s frigate HMAS Darwin bagged a sizeable weapons haul on a dhow, nearly 2,000 AK47 rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine-guns, while in February HMAS Melbourne scored her fifth drugs bust, seizing around £20m of heroin.

The British-led staff, personnel from the Royal Navy joined by RAF and Royal Marines and officers from NATO and regional navies, have gone through a thorough combined assessment at their headquarters on Whale Island to prove they are ready to direct the operation.

While CTF150 deals with the threat of terrorism and provides security on the high seas, Task Force 151 tackles piracy (and currently has British frigate HMS St Albans attached), and 152 is focused on stability and security in the Gulf itself.

The scale of CTF 150’s task has been likened to providing police cover for an area the size of western Europe with six patrol cars – around half a dozen vessels are assigned to the group, operating independently, hundreds of miles apart.

The Royal Navy-led team will take command of CTF150 from a combined Australian-Canadian staff in mid-April in Bahrain, the hub of naval operations east of Suez.