Combined Task Force (CTF) 158 command and control center’s afloat forward staging base, known as Ocean 6, conducted maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf with USS Boxer (LHD 4) Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG), Nov. 21-24.
Ocean 6, a converted civilian barge, is a central command and control hub for MSO in the North Persian Gulf. U.S. Sailors assigned to Ocean 6 coordinate all MSO activity with coalition ships in the North Persian Gulf. Its primary mission is the protection of Iraq’s oil platforms by coordinating U.S. and coalition forces for optimum defense, tactical operations and intelligence gathering in the region.
MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure to help provide the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination.
While operating with BOXESG, Ocean 6 directed the strike group’s ships to patrol the waters around Iraq’s Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) and Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT).
ABOT and KAAOT provide more than 90 percent of Iraq’s annual income. The oil platforms also
supply the world with close to 25 percent of its crude oil.
“The income from these oil platforms is what will eventually enable Iraq to be a strong and independent nation,” said Chief Operations Specialist (SW/AW) Darrell Lafrenz, Joint Mobile Ashore Support Terminal (JMAST) Central Command’s officer-in-charge. JMAST currently operates aboard Ocean 6.
Ocean 6’s Sailors work to detect, deter and deny terrorists from entering Iraq by sea, which protects shipping and prevents maritime crime. They also train Iraqi sailors and marines how to conduct small boat and combat operations. The training is helping Iraqis to independently guard their assets and sea lanes in the North Persian Gulf.
“Being here helps show the Iraqis the steps they need to take to defend themselves and their resources,” said Lt. Todd Hutchison, Ocean 6’s acting chief staff officer. “Our eventual goal is to turn over the responsibility of maritime security within the North Persian Gulf to Iraqi forces.”
“It’s a great experience to work with all of these different forces,” said Ocean 6’s Engineman Fireman Apprentice Christina Hoeffler. “Iraqi, Australian, American and British troops all work together to accomplish a common goal.”
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Bartels, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/ Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs