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Commander CTF150 Blog 2 - Out and about

HMS St Albans flies high at Bahrain Air Show
9 May 2016
Already a month into my Command of Combined Task Force 150, time is racing by.

I have taken the opportunity to get onboard two of my main contributors to the CTF 150 mission: HMAS Darwin and HMS St Albans.

The Australian and British ships bring real expertise in boarding operations and it is important that I understand how to maximise their capability. Hearing, first hand, the experiences of their Commanding Officers allows me to fine tune operations back at headquarters.

It is also a privilege to get on board our ships and to meet with sailors working at the coal face. 

There has also been time for wider engagement.

A port visit to Bahrain by the American carrier USS Harry S Truman to celebrate the 240th Anniversary of Independence got me an invitation to join 1000 other guests at an evening reception.

Keeping with big anniversaries, I also attended the British Embassy reception to celebrate HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday.  HM The King of Bahrain was represented by, His Highness Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, a recent graduate of Britannia Royal Navy College, who spoke warmly of his time training with the Royal Navy.

Back at my headquarters I also hosted key leaders in the shipping industry so that we might better understand one another’s needs in dealing with terrorism at sea.

More broadly our counter-terrorist operations continue with warships from the UK, Australia, France, Pakistan and the US working as part of CTF150.  

I am also working closely with my fellow commanders in Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).  Rear Admiral Ken Cheong of the Singapore Navy is Commander of Task Force 151, which deals with counter-piracy; despite our different missions we are able to share information to understand better the operating environment and to make best use of the maritime forces available.

We are very much ‘one team’ in CMF.

This deployment is also providing opportunities for personal and team development.

Whether that is academic study, achieving fitness goals or participating in sporting challenges, there is plenty to keep everyone occupied when not at work. The US facilities and activities provided under “Morale, Welfare and Recreation” are impressive; while our baseball is woeful, the opportunities for us to relax as a team are first class.

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