Saudi Navy takes over command of international task force to secure key trade routes

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The Royal Saudi Navy took command of a mixed task force that is part of the largest international naval partnership in the world, according to a US Central Command report released on Thursday.

Royal Saudi Navy Commodore Abdullah al-Mutairi assumed command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 from Pakistan Navy Commodore Vaqar Muhammad during a ceremony at the US Navy base in Bahrain.

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Al-Mutairi has reportedly served in the Royal Saudi Navy for 27 years and was most recently the deputy director of operations for Saudi Arabia’s Western Fleet.

“My team will continue to strengthen our relationship with our maritime partners, progress our interoperability and provide a robust security presence to some of the world’s most challenging and important international waters,” al-Mutairi was quoted as saying in the CENTCOM report.

This marks the third time Saudi Arabia leads CTF 150, according to the CENTCOM statement.

The CTF 150 task force, one of four as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, was established in 2002 to conduct maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.

It helps ensure the free flow of commerce, in addition to combating terrorism and the activities linked to it, including human trafficking, drugs and weapons trafficking, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

According to the report, the task force has already interdicted illegal drugs worth $200 million (in US street value) in 2022.

The Combined Maritime Forces includes 34 member nations and is headquartered in Bahrain with the US Naval Forces Central Command and Fifth Fleet.

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