Combined maritime forces chief due in Manila for anti-piracy briefings

January 22, 2011 1:38 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Jan . 21 —The Chief of Staff of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), Captain Chris S. Chambers, is scheduled to present an overview of the piracy situation in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, January 24.

Capt. Chambers is expected to discuss the CMF’s security operations and command, the operations of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 and its counter-piracy campaign plan.

Filipino seafarers are among the largest victims of piracy in the Somali Basin and the Gulf of Aden. At least 119 Filipino crew members of 11 vessels seized on separate occasions in the past months are still held captive by Somali pirates.

According to a report of Japan’s Self Defense Force, the largest number of vessels that its CMF patrol boats have escorted out of the danger zone in year 2009 are those with at least 20 Filipino crew members.

The Philippine Government has designated Navy Captain Gaudencio Collado as its Foreign Liaison Officer to the Combined Maritime Command in Manama, Bahrain.

Expected at the presentation are representatives from Philippine-based shipping companies, Filipino seafarers and manning agencies, concerned government agencies and other stakeholders of the country’s maritime industry

The CTF 151 is a multinational task force established in January 2009 that conducts counter-piracy operations under a mission-based mandate throughout the CMF area of responsibility.

Its mandate is to actively deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations.

It was set up in response to piracy attacks in shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia. It operates in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia covering an area of approximately 1.1 million square miles.

Chambers will also update the participants on piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, the presence of counter-piracy forces in the area, as well as maritime industry best management practice (BMP) and the CMF’s future plans and operations.

The visit aims to update the maritime industry and key government stakeholders of the anti-piracy activities in the pirate-infested maritime areas as well as highlight the need to train seafarers and remind ship owners on BMP as a pre-emptive measure to repel piracy attacks.

While in Manila, Capt. Chambers will pay courtesies on Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Rear Admiral Alexander Pama and Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo.

Ambassador to Bahrain Corazon Yap-Bahjin arranged the visit. (PNA)

LAM/GJB

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