Gulf of Aden: Korean Navy convoy schedule for May and June 2014

Gulf of Aden: Korean Navy convoy schedule for May and June 2014. All merchant vessels wishing to join the convoy group must submit their application forms directly to the ROK naval warship carrying out the mission. The ROK MTG can be reached directly at INMARSAT: 870-773-110-299, Email: rokcheonghae@gmail.com

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Captain Phillips, review

I finally got around to watching ‘Captain Phillips’ today.

I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. Likely an 8, but I’ll need to watch it again and catch details that I’m sure to have missed.

The US Navy was presented very professionally. There was none of the ‘all-singing-all-dancing elite ninja bullshit’ that Hollywood normally goes in for. Just low-lit ops rooms and all emotion kept in check. Just as it should be.

The USS Truxtun (DDG 103) stood in as a filming location for fellow Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), but the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Halyburton (FFG 40) played herself in the movie.

Aerial surveillance photo of the USS Bainbridge while apprehending Somali pirates, via ScanEagle UAV.

The Maersk Alabama was portrayed in the film by her sister-ship the Alexander Maersk and the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean (shout out to Malta!) stood-in for the pirate-infested waters of the Horn of Africa.

At anchor at Mombasa,Kenya during FBI investigation after the hijacking. Via shipspotting.com.

Tom Hanks delivered a tight performance as Captain Rich Phillips. That restraint is what made the emotion at the end of the film very believable. He’s got two Academy Awards. This could earn him a third.

Solid performances from the actors portraying the Alabama’s crew. No gung-ho Chuck Norris b/s and chants of “USA! USA!” which would have made the flick unbearable. Just a solid portrayal of sober professionals and a frank portrayal of the true threat that pirates present. That merchant mariners take these risks every day is remarkable. And frightening. And should make you thankful that they do.

Which brings me to the pirates, and particularly to Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the hijack leader. (1) Showing us Somalia early-on as an utter toilet was a piece of genius. Yes, they’re pirates, but now we know how and why. (2) If Barkhad Abdi doesn’t win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor then there is no justice in Hollywood. His performance was incredible. He brings pathos to a character that could otherwise be a two-dimensional cartoon “bad guy.” Muse is doomed from the outset. And he is aware of his doom. Which is utterly tragic. As is, of course, Somalia.

Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, Somali hijacker leader.

Go and see it. Definitely recommended.

HMAS Newcastle conducts counter-terrorist operations in Bab-el-Mandeb strait

HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) is a Royal Australian Navy Adelaide-class frigate, laid down in 1989 and commissioned into the RAN in 1993. She will be replaced by one of the new Hobart-class destroyers (due to commission between 2016-19).

HMAS Newcastle completes counter-terrorism focused operation

One of HMAS Newcastle’s Ridged Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) returning from boarding operations.

In July, HMAS Newcastle completed an intensive counter-terrorism focused operation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with the multi-national Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).

During the focused operation, Newcastle executed 58 boarding actions, three replenishment activities with foreign ships and five deterrence transits of the (BAM).

The BAM, which translated from Arabic means the ‘Gate of Grief’, is a critical choke point that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Southern Red Sea, leading north to the Suez Canal. The narrow body of water is part of a global shipping network that connects the West and the East. It is frequently used by ships travelling from Europe to nations whose maritime boarders are on the Indian Ocean. CTF 150 estimates that between 55 and 65 merchant ships transit the BAM daily.

A boarding party from HMAS Newcastle conducts Approach and Assist Visits on a boat in the Middle East Area of Operations.

Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Mike Forsythe described the BAM as a high risk area for terrorism related activities.

“It is high risk because of the width of the strait and the number of small boats that operate in it,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.

“The aims of the coalition and regional partners involved in the focused operation were to build a better understanding of the patterns of life in the area, to deter terrorist activities, and restrict the terrorist’s freedom of movement,” he said.

The boarding actions executed by Newcastle during the focused operation were Approach and Assist Visits (AAV), which are conducted regularly by coalition warships to build rapport with local mariners and seek information on what they may have seen in the area. The visits allow the coalition ships to collect intelligence on patterns of illegal activity.

Newcastle used her S-70-B2 Seahawk helicopter to survey the area of operations to gather intelligence on patterns of life and identify targets for her Boarding Party to visit.

During the focused operation, Newcastle also conducted three replenishment activities with coalition ships, from France and the United States, to take on fuel and stores ensuring that Newcastle could remain in the area and focused on her mission.

The Australian crew battled through 97 percent humidity for more than four hours to complete one of the Replenishment at Sea (RAS) evolutions with the United States Naval Service oiler USNS Patuxent, which included a Heavy Jackstay. Newcastle also conducted her first evening RAS with French Ship (FS) Somme, their third replenishment activity together since Newcastle arrived in the Middle East Area of Operation (MEAO).

The focused operation was a true multi-national affair with the Australian warship interacting with British, French, U.S. and Spanish units.

“The BAM is an important strategic strait to the international community. Without it, ships would have to transit all the way around Africa. We all have an interest in the security of this region,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.

On completion of the counter-terrorism focused operation, Newcastle was assigned to another CTF 150 operation – targeting the smuggling of weapons.

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain. The principle mission of CTF 150 is to deter, disrupt and defeat attempts by international terrorist organisations to use the maritime environment as a venue for attack or as a means to transport personnel, weapons and other materials.

Newcastle is in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) assigned to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement. Her deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.

HMAS Newcastle’s Boarding Team, boarding the Yemeni Dhow SONA after being invited on during an Approach and Assist Visit (AAV) to build rapport with local mariners in the Bab Al Mandeb strait.


http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Aug2013/Operations/344#.UiB0hD-WObg