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Italy Takes Command of International Red Sea Task Force

Italian Navy Capt. Roberto Messina assumed command from U.S. Navy Capt. David Coles, who has commanded CTF 153 since November.
This is the third time Italy has assumed command of CMF task force since the 42-nation maritime partnership was established in 2002.

Established on April 17, 2022, CTF 153 is one of five task forces under CMF. It is responsible for maritime security operations in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb, and western Gulf of Aden in order to deter and impede illicit non-state actors. CTF 153 enhances maritime security and stability, protects the freedom of navigation and builds a strong foundation for multinational cooperation in the region.

Under Coles’ command, CTF 153 led Operation Prosperity Guardian, a 24-nation international presence operation intent on ensuring freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most strategic waterways. He said that mission, among other accomplishments, defined the teamwork CMF strives to achieve every day.

“I am incredibly proud of all the hard work and dedication by CTF 153 staff and units at-sea in support of Operation Prosperity Guardian. Their efforts have directly contributed to regional maritime security and freedom of navigation in the CTF 153 area of operations,” Coles said. “It is a true honor to hand over command to an incredibly strong maritime partner like Italy. I know the Task Force is in good hands, and look forward to celebrating CTF 153’s future accomplishments under Capt. Messina's stewardship.”

Messina now leads a 35-person multinational staff from 10 countries, planning, coordinating and executing maritime security operations. Messina said this teamwork highlights the strong international partnerships required to ensure regional maritime stability.

“It is my honor to serve as commander of CTF 153,” said Capt. Messina. “I look forward to working closely with regional and partner nations to ensure maritime security and stability in this vital economic artery.”

CMF is the world’s largest naval partnership, with 42 countries working together. Other task forces include CTF 150, focused on maritime security in the Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden; CTF 151, which leads regional anti-piracy efforts; CTF 152, dedicated to maritime security in the Arabian Gulf; and CTF 154, enhancing maritime security training throughout the region.