Tuesday, March 04, 2008

5th Fleet Forces Abuzz with Activity in February

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) demonstrated their continued commitment to regional security during February.

Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, commander, NAVCENT/5th Fleet/CMF, said the more coalition and partner nations collaborate to provide security for the region, the more they are able to achieve.

"The continued presence of coalition forces guarantees maritime security of those who depend on free use of the seas," said Cosgriff. "From security arises stability, which enhances trade, promotes economic vitality and increases regional and global prosperity."

In February, CMF ships performed several at-sea rescues of mariners in distress. On Feb. 3, Canadian multi-patrol frigate HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) rescued two Pakistani mariners adrift on a barge in the North Arabian Sea; on Feb. 14, Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 helped coordinate a medical evacuation from a Greek merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden; on Feb. 22, USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2), responded to a merchant vessel's request for rescue and medical attention with assistance from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 7, assigned to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), and Royal Fleet Auxiliary dock landing ship RFA Cardigan Bay (L 3009).

In addition to providing aid to stranded or injured sailors, CMF forces also intercepted and stopped illegal smuggling activities in the region's waters. CTF 150 warships halted a shipment of hashish, Feb. 18 and a shipment of alcohol, Feb. 19 in the North Arabian Sea.

These actions demonstrated the flexibility and capability of U.S. and coalition forces that make them well positioned to respond to any emergent situations. Through operations and training with regional partners, NAVCENT/5th Fleet/CMF forces enhanced existing cooperative relationships with an aim to support regional countries' struggles against violent extremists.

Commands changed hands aboard USS Tarawa (LHA 1), Feb. 7 and at CTF 150, where the French navy assumed command from the Pakistan navy, Feb. 25.

Reinforcing the many important aspects of Maritime Security Operations (MSO), NAVCENT hosted a Maritime Infrastructure Protection Symposium (MIPS) Feb. 26 to Feb. 28. MIPS, a conference designed to improve the defense and crisis response of partner, coalition and infrastructure-related organizations, brought together industry professionals, security personnel and maritime corporations with regional and coalition partners.

Approximately 200 participants from various countries discussed ways to improve the defense and crisis response of coalition and infrastructure-related organizations.

MSO help set the conditions for security, which promotes stability in the maritime environment, and complements counterterrorism efforts in regional nations' littoral waters. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.