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Egypt takes command of new Red Sea maritime task force

Egyptian Navy frigate ENS Alexandria and US Navy amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney operate in the Red Sea in support of the newly established CTF-153 in April 2022. The US handed over the command of CTF-153 to Egypt on 12 December. (US Army)

The Egyptian Navy has assumed leadership of the recently established multinational Combined Task Force 153 (CTF-153) in the Red Sea.

The US Navy officially handed over the command to Egypt during a ceremony held in Bahrain on 12 December.

The transition marks for the first time the Egyptian Navy has assumed command of a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) operational staff since joining the maritime security coalition in 2021 as its 34th member.

CTF-153 was officially stood up by the CMF in April 2022 to combat maritime security threats, such as smuggling and other illicit activities, and provide capacity building in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab, and the Gulf of Aden.

The expectation is that two to eight ships will serve under the task force at any one time. In the near future, the US is planning to fill remaining gaps in coverage of the region's waterways with unmanned surface vessels (USVs) that are currently being tested by US Fifth Fleet's Task Force 59. Under current planning, the US Fifth Fleet has its sights set on forming a multinational fleet of 100 USVs to patrol the waters of the Middle East by the middle of 2023.

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