During an indoor ceremony at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain, Jan. 18, United Kingdom’s Royal Navy assumed command of a multinational task force led by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces since July.

Royal Saudi Navy Rear Adm. Abdullah Al-Mutairi turned over command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 to UK Royal Navy Capt. James Byron. CTF 150 is one of four task forces under Combined Maritime Forces, the largest international naval partnership in the world, consisting of 34 member-nations.

CTF 150 conducts maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden to help ensure freedom of navigation by disrupting and deterring destabilizing maritime activity.

“Six months ago, I was here on this same stage,” Al-Mutairi explained. “We said then, ‘Saudi Arabia is always ready.’ We came here ready, and this is our achievement.”

Under Al-Mutairi’s leadership, CTF 150 ships logged more than 10,000 hours on regional patrols and intercepted six shipments of illegal drugs that included opium, heroin, hashish and amphetamines. The combined estimated value of the seized drugs totaled more than $250 million.

Al-Mutairi’s headquarters staff included personnel from Bahrain, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

CTF 150’s new commander, Byron, has completed multiple command tours, including in the Middle East region. He served as the staff operations officer and later deputy commander of the Bahrain-based United Kingdom Maritime Component Command until August 2020.

“I am delighted to be taking command of Combined Task Force 150 and look forward to following the huge successes achieved by Rear Adm. Al-Mutairi and his team from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the last six months,” Byron said. “My Royal Navy staff, supported by personnel from both the Royal Navy of New Zealand and the Italian Marina Militare, will work tirelessly to keep a watchful eye over the region.”