An interesting press release from the US HQ in Bahrain

See: "New Counter-Piracy Task Force Established."

There are several interesting components to this. The first is organizational:

"Some navies in our coalition did not have the authority to conduct counter-piracy missions," said Vice Adm, Bill Gortney, CMF Commander. "The establishment of CTF-151 will allow those nations to operate under the auspices of CTF-150, while allowing other nations to join CTF-151 to support our goal of deterring, disrupting and eventually bringing to justice the maritime criminals involved in piracy events."

In that light it will be interesting, therefore, to see where the European Union's piracy force fits in given concerns a few of its ships had rather weak ROE for the piracy mission. After Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, announced their counter piracy force would have "robust rules of engagement," within days leaked documents revealed that the German government was "not prepared actively to pursue and arrest pirates" with regard to the ships it was sending. The keen military observer will no doubt recognize that most governments announce they are providing "robust rules of engagement" whether they are doing so or are not. One does not admit one is providing inadequate ROE, and in this case the opposite claim was an obvious howler.  So one has to ask whether the new CTF 151 will exclude those EU forces without the political authority to actually capture pirates.

Next the flagship is the USS  San Antonio -  an amphibious ship or "Landing Platform Dock (LPD)."  This undoubtedly gives it the headquarters facilities and helicopter capabilities needed to coordinate forces, attack pirates, house them until turnover to the appropriate regional court (Kenya and Yemen have been mentioned), or, intriguingly, prepare for taking the counter-piracy mission ashore. Watch this space.

Finally, this forces one to ask where will the next Canadian ship go? CTF 150? or CTF 151?

The good news in all of this is that the current naval forces, however limited, are reportedly reducing pirate activity but much more apparently still needs to be done.