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Italian Navy Replaces US as Head of International Red Sea Task Force

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The Italian Navy has assumed command of Combined Task Force 153, taking over from the U.S. Navy.

Italy’s Capt. Roberto Messina formally replaced his American counterpart, Capt. David Cole, during a change of command ceremony at the Combined Maritime Forces headquarters in Manama, Bahrain, on Wednesday.

In his address at the event, Messina said he will work with partner nations to ensure maritime stability in the Red Sea.

The new commander will be supported by a 35-person multinational staff from 10 countries in planning, coordinating and executing maritime security operations, the Navy said.

The chief responsibility of the Italian official as CTF 153 head is to conduct maritime security operations in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb, and the western part of the Gulf of Aden.

Under Messina, the task force will continue its mission of improving maritime security in the region, protecting the freedom of navigation and building a strong foundation for multinational cooperation.

Italy takes the lead in the maritime zone as the Houthis continue their attacks from Yemen, targeting commercial ships passing through the Red Sea and headed to Israel, which the group blames for the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

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