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Bahrain takes key counterpiracy command within US-led sea force

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, center, presides while Turkish Naval Forces Rear Adm. Emre Sezenler, left, turns over command of Combined Task Force 151 to Royal Bahrain Navy Capt. Yusuf Almannaei, right, at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Nov. 2, 2017.

COURTESY OF VICTORIA KINNEY/U.S. NAVY

By JASON BEHNKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 2, 2017

MANAMA, Bahrain — Royal Bahrain Navy Capt. Yusuf Almannaei assumed command of Combined Task Force 151 on Thursday, marking the first time Bahrain has led the multinational counterpiracy force.

Formed in 2009, CTF 151 is charged with patrolling parts of the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the eastern coast of Somalia. It operates under the Combined Maritime Forces, a coalition of 32 member nations led by the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet commander.

Since its formation, global piracy has been in decline. Almannaei credits some of that to the overall force’s work.

“The piracy had reached its peak in 2010, 2011,” he said. “With the efforts of Combined Maritime Forces, the piracy trends up to zero.”

Almannaei relieved Rear Adm. Emre Sezenler of the Turkish Navy.

Under Sezenler, who had command since July, CTF 151 said that there have been attempts, but no successful attacks by pirates. Almannaei hopes to continue this trend, while continuing to provide mariners with guidance on avoiding, deterring and defending against attacks.

“The big challenge is to talk to the mariners and convince to continue their (best management practices) and continue having their security team,” Almannaei said.

There were 445 reported pirate attacks worldwide in 2010, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. That number dropped to 191 in 2016.

Bahrain has held two other commands under the Combined Maritime Forces: CTF 150, which focuses on counter-terrorism, and CTF 152, which deals with maritime security in the Arabian Gulf.

Command of CTF 151 transfers to another member nation every three to six months.

behnke.jason@stripes.com

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, center, presides while Turkish Naval Forces Rear Adm. Emre Sezenler, left, turns over command of Combined Task Force 151 to Royal Bahrain Navy Capt. Yusuf Almannaei, right, at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Nov. 2, 2017.
COURTESY OF VICTORIA KINNEY/U.S. NAVY

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