ABOARD USS CAPE ST. GEORGE (NNS) — The British staff of Combined Task Force (CTF) 58 debarked USS Cape St. George (CG 71) March 1 after commanding 72 days of successful maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf from aboard the Norfolk-based cruiser.
Royal Navy Commodore Bruce Williams, commander, CTF 58 and his staff lead maritime security operations and the protection of two Iraqi oil terminals responsible for more than 90 percent of Iraq’s exported oil. For more than two months, Williams led the task force from aboard his flagship – Cape St. George.
“It is with great sadness that Task Force 58, my staff and I have to say ‘goodbye’ to the Cape. From the warmth of welcome and impressive professionalism of your team, to the real effect the ship has had on all aspects of the Task Force 58 mission, Cape has certainly set the pace and standard,” said Williams in a message to Cape’s commanding officer.
From the time the Brits boarded the ship, the Cape crew worked hard to establish and maintain a productive working relationship so that MSO could be executed
throughout the North Persian Gulf.
“The crew assumed the duties as flagship with style. In addition to supporting the staff, Cape successfully hosted distinguished visitors from Air Marshal Torpy, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, while simultaneously safeguarding Iraq’s future through protection of the oil platforms,” said Lt. Joel Lang, Cape’s current operations and weapons officer, who worked closely with the task force staff juggling task force schedules.
The British staff deployed four months ago and has moved several times as it embarks various warships operating in the Northern Persian Gulf. While aboard U.S. Navy ships like Cape, British Sailors ate, slept and stood watch with their American counterparts.
Cape’s crew and the staff of CTF 58 worked with several navies while conducting MSO in the North Persian Gulf. In addition to working closely with the Navy’s Mobile Security Detachments (MSD) on the oil platforms, the ship also worked with U.S. Coast Guard crews and ships from the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Iraq.
“If ever there was a mission that builds consensus and common ground between our coalition maritime forces, it is the maritime security of our sea lanes,” said Capt. James R. Yohe, Cape’s commanding officer. “We all share in the benefits of stability and safety on the high seas.”
Cape, which left Norfolk, Va., early November as part of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 8, will continue supporting maritime security operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations. Maritime security operations set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. MSO complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO denies international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.