There’s a little bit of a difference in what Commander, Task Force (CTF) 56 does compared to some of the other CTFs that are here in 5th Fleet. Normally commanders during the execution of operations are concerned about a single threat factor, such as a surface threat or air threat.
The difference for CTF 56 is that they have to look at all threat factors in an area which can include air, surface, subsurface and even cyber. That’s a lot for a single task force. To accomplish this, CTF 56 has 1300 personnel made up of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Navy divers, coastal riverine forces, Seabees, expeditionary intelligence personnel, embarked security and intelligence teams, which are the point defense for USNS ships from counter-piracy. One of its main missions though is protecting the littorals (as a broad term its anywhere ships are restricted in their ability to maneuver) and the blue water. To do this, it employs four main mission objectives. Clear, support, build and protect. First an area is cleared of explosive and physical hazards by using coastal riverine forces and EOD divers. Then it is secured for use by the United States Navy or to reinforce partner nations. Next they build battle space domain awareness. This means they’ll utilize special intelligence capabilities, counter IED exploitation capabilities, etc. to understand the threat to that area and build awareness of what those threats are. Finally they’ll protect that port or area until told to hand it over or pass it back to partner nations.
These mission objectives provide CTF 56 with the tools to get the job done as well as excel in a difficult environment. Some of the new tools that are giving CTF 56 a farther reach are the Coastal Command Boat (CCB) and the upgraded version Mark VI. These platforms provide endurance and legs to get out to areas that may not be easily accessed right now. It allows access to go farther out to sea, independent steaming types of operations to get to the areas where there is a need to clear, secure, build, and protect, and also allows more fire power. These vessels are bigger than the ones currently employed which are largely in the 30-60 ft range where the new ships are 80-90 ft in length.
What’s the best part of the CCB though? Besides being able to handle up to 12 ft seas as well as replenish and refuel at sea it’s just really cool. Check out the CCB video below!
CTF-56 will continue to ensure free access to trade routes in this area of the world.
– The Producer