Brazil is the only Latin American member country of the Combined Maritime Forces, a multinational naval partnership to promote security, stability, and prosperity in 3.2 million square miles of international waters.
The Brazilian Navy’s (MB, in Portuguese) Naval Operations Command (CON, in Portuguese) will increase cooperation with the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a U.S Navy and Royal Navy-led multinational naval partnership, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain. CMF fights piracy, terrorism, and illegal activities at sea. In July 2018, Brazil officially became the 33rd and only Latin American country to join CMF. The organization controls navigation in 3.2 million square miles of high-risk international waters in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, including the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
“This means that Brazil became a sitting member of a select group of countries seeking to contribute to maritime security and free trade in a region with a high concentration of maritime shipping lanes. The new status increases operational knowledge in the fight against crimes at sea, such as piracy, terrorism, drug, and arms trafficking. It’s also a great opportunity to establish exchanges with other navies, given the considerable number of countries involved,” said MB Commander Wendell Petrocelli de Lima of CON’s Joint Operations and Planning Division.
In the past, liaison officers at CMF deployed to serve in the Middle East forwarded threat reports in monitored maritime areas to CON. As Brazil joined CMF as a sitting member, MB Commander João Orlando Enes Prudêncio took on the role of senior national representative, to act as a CMF General Staff member, in Manama, July 2018–July 2019. Cmdr. Prudêncio will then be assigned to CON to serve a two-year minimum, applying and disseminating all acquired knowledge.
Brazilian maritime potential
CMF is under the command of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Scott A. Stearney, who also serves as commander of U.S Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. Fifth Fleet. Royal Navy Commodore Steve Dainton, UK Maritime Component commander at CMF, is second-in-command.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome Brazil to our growing organization,” said Commodore Dainton in a CMF press release. “It shows that maritime security issues like piracy and acts of terror are a global concern, and we hope the Brazilian Navy contributes to our international partnership.”
CMF’s resources fall under three combined task forces (CTF). CTF-150, Maritime Security Operations and Counterterrorism, was created in February 2002 after 9/11. CTF-151, Counter-Piracy, handles combat operations against piracy since January 2009. CTF-152, Maritime Security Operations in the Arabian Gulf, prioritizes the fight against terror and narcotraffickers under a U.S and Royal Saudi Navy-led team of officers.
Brazil’s new membership attests to the power of its naval force and its capabilities, means, and human resources to cooperate and take part in global maritime task forces and operations. “Brazil participates with an officer in the General Staff of CTF-151, which is responsible for the fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa, since November 2017. The Brazilian Navy has a second officer since September 28, 2018, who, along with Cmdr. Prudêncio, is part of the General Staff of CTF-151, under Kuwait’s command,” said Cmdr. Petrocelli.
With critical vessels among its fleet, such as the Multipurpose Helicopter Carrier Atlântico and the Bahia Multipurpose Dock Ship, that are now formally part of CMF, MB could participate in international patrols within CMF’s jurisdiction. “Not now, but as a CMF member country, it’s possible in the future,” Cmdr. Petrocelli said.
“MB’s ship crews are trained to take action during several combat operations and crimes at sea, such as those CMF faces,” said Cmdr. Petrocelli. Since 2011, MB commands the Maritime Task Force of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon with a ship and an aircraft permanently deployed to stop the influx of illegal weapons and contraband. MB also contributes to training the Lebanese Navy to help its troops gain operational autonomy.
“Brazil seeks to stay current and engaged in maritime threat matters, although our actions within CMF are limited to combating piracy, due to the Brazilian government’s legal position,” said Cmdr. Petrocelli. “Piracy in the Horn of Africa is a problem that afflicts the entire international community because it directly affects global trade, and Brazil has an interest in contributing to fighting this crime. In addition, Brazil can gain from the experience in the fight against piracy in this part of the world to use against the existing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, a strategic area of great interest for the country,” concluded Cmdr. Petrocelli.