Germany assumed command of International Navy Task Force 150 from the United States on 5 May but the Defense Ministry in Berlin said it would relinquish command by the end of October. The multinational patrol is tasked with searching for terrorists in the sea lanes off the East African coast.
German Defense Minister Scharping, accompanied by Navy Inspector Vice Admiral Luessow, arrived in Djibouti on 12 May for a 48-hour staff visit of German forces in the area. The next day they were aboard the frigate "Bavaria", for maneuvers with the USS Oakhill.
Scharping told the press that coalition forces can now stop suspect ships and search them, but nothing like this has happened yet. So far, the fleet has only watched and registered ships in the area of operations. However, commercial security has noticeably improved in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and along the Somali coast. These waters had been plagued by pirates and smugglers.
Three US warships and 3,000 personnel are part of the Task Force, along with British and Spanish ships. The Allied fleet musters over 70 ships from 11 nations crewed or directly supported by 30,000 sailors and attached personnel. - Adam Geibel