Coalition Task Force Sentinel Change of Command
MANAMA, Bahrain – Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel held a change of command ceremony between two British officers at Naval Support Activity Bahrain November 19.
The transfer of responsibility between the outgoing commander, Commodore Rob Bellfield and the incoming commander, Commodore Craig Wood, occurred after recently marking the task force first anniversary on Nov. 7.
Currently comprised of nine member nations, the growing coalition includes Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and the newest member the Republic of Estonia, which voted to join the coalition on October 27th.
“The greatest strength of IMSC’s CTF Sentinel is the breadth of capacity the participating nations bring to the mission, providing extensive overwatch across the Arabian Gulf and nearby waters,” said Bellfield.
Employing over 58 ships during his tenure, Commodore Bellfield expanded the original scope of CTF Sentinel operations by leading continual efforts to improve the credibility of task force deterrence measures, and by directing the execution of several operations in the Arabian Gulf that improved industry partners’ perceptions of maritime security.
“Commodore Bellfield maximized reassurance to the commercial maritime industry by deterring malign activity through robust and visible deterrence focused operation and dynamic maneuver to ensure freedom of navigation,” said Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces.
“With an emphasis of esprit de corps, he developed this multinational team, maintained a 24 hour watch, seven days a week, providing a renewed confidence in safe and open sea lines of communication across the region through difficult times of heightened tensions and multi-layered regional and world challenges.”
Commodore Bellfield oversaw more than 16,000 collective hours of coverage by major warships and partner nation patrol vessels and over 13,000 hours of aircraft reconnaissance flights, ensuring the incident-free transit of over 1200 IMSC-flagged merchant vessels, totaling over 500,000,000 tons through the highly contested maritime choke points of the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait during a period of significant international political unrest.
“It has been an honour and privilege to command this outstanding task force and work with such professional sailors and ships across the coalition,” said Bellfield.
“We have grown, matured and become confident in our mission to deter those who seek to undermine freedom of navigation and the rules based order in the maritime domain. I am delighted to hand over the pennant to my good friend and colleague Craig, to continue Sentinel’s great work.”
Commodore Wood, a surface warfare officer of more than 30 years’ experience, has commanded warships on operations around the world to include the destroyer HMS LIVERPOOL in 2007 and the HMS DRAGON in 2016.
Wood joins CTF Sentinel after leading key transformation work in the surface fleet, culminating in his command of the Royal Navy’s Surface Flotilla.
“2020 has been a year of many challenges and changes. The world no longer feels the same as it did before. Now more than ever we need stability, and stability generates confidence. Our job is to provide confidence and assurance to the merchant shipping community in this region through the presence of our Sentinels and Sentries, because instability here causes problems everywhere,” said Wood.
“It is an honor to continue the momentum generated by Rob and this mighty task force, because as long as the threat persists our mission endures.”
More than 17,000 ships per year pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and more than 42,000 ships per year pass through the Strait of Hormuz. Any restrictions of these waterways result in international consequences, impacting economies all over the globe.
Coalition Task Force Sentinel continues to safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and reassure merchant shipping by deterring and exposing state-sponsored malign activity that threatens security of the maritime commons in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Southern Red Sea.