Commodore Ray Leggatt, the Royal Australian Navy’s present Commander of the international Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 150 travelled to Mumbai, India and Colombo, Sri Lanka recently to discuss maritime security in the Indian Ocean with key leaders, and explore opportunities for collaboration and co-operation.
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India and Sri Lanka are not part of the international combined armed forces but play a key role that is important to security partnerships, maintaining security and stability in the Indian ocean region, and work with the UN partners in developing a global response to security challenges.
Discussion focused on identifying trans-shipment points, challenges to maritime security in the region, and opportunities for co-operation and training.
Commodore Leggatt said the countries were vital to addressing the security challenges in the Indian Ocean region because it's their ‘backyard’.
“The sharing of information, co-operation at sea, and opportunities to train and share best practices are vital to promoting security in the Indian Ocean and that is something that benefits us all,” Commodore Leggatt said.
“Strengthening relationships with Indian Ocean countries with vested interests in promoting security and stability in the maritime domain is one of the primary objectives of Combined Task Force 150’s mission,”
Supported by Royal Canadian and Royal New Zealand Navy staff, the Royal Australian Navy assumed command of CTF 150 in early December 2019.
Commodore Leggatt's visit comes after the HMAS Toowoomba made a port visit to Mumbai on its way to deployment in the strait of Hormuz in support of CTF 150.
In Columbo, Commodore Leggatt met with Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Chief of the Sri Lankan Navy and Mr Alan Cole, head of the global maritime crime program with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
At the Sri Lankan naval headquarters, Vice Admiral De Silva hosted a round table discussion on maritime security where Commodore Leggatt was joined by Commander Grant Coleman, CTF 150 Operations Officer, and Australian Defence Advisor to Sri Lanka, Group Captain Sean Unwin.
The maritime security operations as well as co-operative engagements with partner nations ensures that they can effectively complete functions in the Indian ocean such as deterring and denying terrorist organisations freedom to work within the maritime domain, and positively work towards action against high sea smuggling of illicit cargo such as narcotics, illegal weapons under embargoes and Somali charcoal.
CTF 150 is one of three combined task forces that make up CMF, the 33-nation force aligned in common purpose to conduct maritime security operations in the wider Gulf region in order to provide security and stability in the maritime environment.
France’s Marine Nationale will take over command this month.