Egypt takes command of newly established Red Sea task force

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The Egyptian Navy has taken over command of the newly formed Red Sea task force CTF 153, which was created in April 2022.

The US Navy officially handed over the command of Combined Task Force 153 (CTF 153) to Egypt during a ceremony on 12 December in Bahrain where the multinational staff is headquartered.

US Navy Captain Robert Francis, who stood up CTF 153 in April, handed command to Egyptian Navy Rear Admiral Mahmoud Abdelsattar. The transition marks the first time Egypt is assuming command of a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) operational staff since joining the 34 member-nation naval partnership in 2021.

“I am incredibly proud of our efforts since launching this new task force only eight months ago,” said Francis. “It is a true honour to hand over command to an incredibly strong regional maritime partner like Egypt. I know the task force will continue to execute as one dynamic team, and I will always be celebrating their accomplishments from afar.”

CTF 153 is one of four Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task forces. It was established on 17 April to enhance international maritime security and capacity-building efforts in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb and Gulf of Aden, CMF said.

CMF’s other task forces include CTF 150, focused on maritime security in the Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden; CTF 151, which leads regional counter-piracy efforts; and CTF 152, dedicated to maritime security in the Arabian Gulf.

“It is my honour to serve as commander of Combined Task force 153,” said Mahmoud. “The focus of my efforts will be to work closely together with regional countries, partners, and participating nations to maintain maritime security and stability in the region.”

Mahmoud’s 27 years of military experience began following graduation from the Egyptian Naval College in 1995. He has extensive experience in submarine operations and most recently served as the chief of staff for a naval base in Alexandria, Egypt.

Jane’s reports that two to eight ships will serve under the task force at any one time. In the near future, the US is planning to fill remaining gaps in coverage of the region’s waterways with unmanned surface vessels (USVs) that are currently being tested by US Fifth Fleet’s Task Force 59.