7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Bahrain role in fighting terror hailed

BAHRAIN'S commitment in the fight against global terrorism has been praised by top US Navy officials.

The country's support is extremely important, said USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Eleven Commander, Rear Admiral Peter Daly.

"We value our relationship with Bahrain very much and the US has a very strong relationship with your country," he told the GDN aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is currently operating in the Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime security operations.

It replaced the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, which concluded operations last month.

Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing Nine launched more than 6,500 sorties, totalling more than 20,000 flight hours, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime security operations since relieving USS Harry S Truman last March.

USS Nimitz commanding officer Captain Ted Branch says the strike group is here on a regularly scheduled deployment.

The 18-storey high, 1,092 feet-long and 252 feet-wide ship has a crew of nearly 3,000 men and women and when Nimitz deploys, the air wing brings an additional 2,500 personnel.

"For the Nimitz, we are here with our air wing embarked, to support the multinational force and Operation Iraqi Freedom and we are also working with our coalition maritime forces in maritime security operations here in the Gulf," said Capt Branch

Maritime security operations, or MSO, deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material to spread terror.

"International terrorist organisations are a threat to us all," said Capt Branch.

"The more people and the more countries we can get involved in the fight against terrorism, the better off we are.

"There is always the additional concern of some kind of terrorist act and we are always cautious."

He said that there was always a possibility of a terrorist attack in the waters.

"We always have to be mindful," said Capt Branch.

"Out at sea there are dhows that could be loaded with explosives and they could perhaps go up to the ship and detonate.

"What we are trying to do with the force is to set the conditions of our maritime security in the Gulf and that really is in everyone's interest."

Terrorists have the capability to adapt and change their targets, as shown by the attacks on London and Egypt, he said.

The threat of terrorism is very real, said Rear Adm Daly.

"Our goal here is to set conditions and establish stability with the coalition," he said.

"The threat of terrorism is real and we have a common goal to make these waters safe.

"We'd like to be here as long as we are welcome and we don't want to stay one day longer than is needed."

Capt Branch said that although the USS Nimitz had yet to interact with the Bahraini Navy or Coastguard, they were appreciative of the kingdom's efforts to combat terrorism.

"We expect to have some liaison officer exchanges with our Bahraini counterparts and of course chances are pretty good that we'll visit Bahrain and have interaction with them there and we are looking forward to our visit," he said.

"The crew is very excited about being here and we are working and training to perform this mission for some time, even though the conditions are very difficult here in the Gulf in the summer.

"Temperatures on the flight deck in the summer here reach well over 120F (48C).

"When the temperatures are that high we try to moderate our flying days and perhaps not have so many sorties, to make it a little bit easier on our crew.

"This is a very demanding environment. The operations that we do routinely are demanding and require constant attention and a great deal of training and professional excellence to carry out well."

But whatever the weather, the work continues for the coalition, which includes US, UK, Australia, Pakistan, Italy, France, Bahrain and other navies in the region.

The maritime security operations have had a stabilising effect on the Gulf, said Capt Branch.

click on image to view the digital edition