Agreement Covers 2.5 Million Square Miles in Gulf and Indian Ocean Areas
On 1 June, naval leaders from the US, UK, and France signed an agreement designed to increase coordination for ASW activities in US 5th Fleet’s area of operations, which covers about 2.5 million square miles of water area in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
Vice Adm. Kevin M Donegan, Commander, US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT); Vice Adm. Louis-Michel Guillaume, Commander, French Submarine and Strategic Oceanic Forces (ALFOST), and Rear Adm. Robert K. Tarrant, the Royal Navy’s Commander, Operations, signed the tril;ateral agreement at Donegan’s headquarters in Bahrain.
The agreement follows a commitment made by the senior officers of the three services in London in late March, in which they affirmed their commitment to enhanced interoperability. “We believe this increased trilateral cooperation will help secure a future that is not only in the interests of our three nations, but in the common interests of our allies, partners and all like-minded nations who are committed to peace, prosperity and maritime security,” an excerpt from the statement read.
“Our nations have operated regularly in close cooperation for many years, but the agreement signed today, which followed the trilateral meeting of our respective Chiefs of Navy in March, allows our navies to reach a standardised level in anti-submarine warfare coordination across the region,” Guillaume commented. “We thus will have right away in the 5th Fleet area of operations a high-level basis of cooperation to improve our operational results in undersea warfare.”
The three navies regularly operate together in the area. France has deployed its nuclear aircraft carrier CHARLES DE GAULLE twice to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation “Inherent Resolve.” In 2015, a French admiral, embarked on CHARLES DE GAULLE, commanded NAVCENT’s Task Force (TF) 50, a US formation. A Royal Navy admiral also assumed command of TF 50 last November while embarked aboard the amphibious helicopter carrier HMS OCEAN.
Additionally, both navies have had ships serving as part of TF 50 and with the Combined Maritime Forces in the region.