Australia Destroys Chinese and Indonesian F/Vs Caught Illegally Fishing

This isn’t new, the reports date from November 2021, here and here, but I had not heard about it previously.

The practice isn’t unique to Australia. Indonesia famously, routinely blows up fishing vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters and I found this 2015 report that Palau had burned four Vietnamese fishing vessels.

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

“ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY RETIRES PATROL BOAT MAITLAND” –Baird Maritime

HMAS Maitland conducts a passage exercise with USCGC Kimball during Operation Solania. Photo: Seaman Isaiah Appleton

Baird Maritime reports, the Australian Navy is retiring one of their Amidale class patrol boats, HMAS Maitland. The vessel is relatively young by USCG standards, having been commissioned in 2006. It seems the class was stressed by high tempo, long distance, alien migrant interdiction deployments. This is the third of the original 14 vessels of the class to be decommissioned. One was as a result of a fire in 2014. The second was decommissioned March 2021.

These vessels are to be replaced by a class of 12 much larger OPVs, but in the meantime, the Australian Navy is also procuring, in many ways similar, 190 foot Cape Class patrol boats. The decommissioning follows closely on the delivery of the first of these “evolved” Cape class.

Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro and Japan Coast Guard Patrol Vessel Large Aso, transit together in formation during a maritime engagement in the East China Sea Aug. 25, 2021. U.S. Coast Guard members aboard the Munro deployed to the Western Pacific Ocean to strengthen alliances and partnerships and improve maritime governance and security in the region. (Photo courtesy of Japan Coast Guard)

The Whitehouse has issued a new Indo-Pacific Strategy, and it specifically mentions the US Coast Guard.

The document calls out China for its aggressive behavior,

This intensifying American focus is due in part to the fact that the Indo-Pacific faces mounting challenges, particularly from the PRC. The PRC is combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological might as it pursues a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and seeks to become the world’s most influential power. The PRC’s coercion and aggression spans the globe, but it is most acute in the Indo-Pacific. From the economic coercion of Australia to the conflict along the Line of Actual Control with India to the growing pressure on Taiwan and bullying of neighbors in the East and South China Seas, our allies and partners in the region bear much of the cost of the PRC’s harmful behavior. In the process, the PRC is also undermining human rights and international law, including freedom of navigation, as well as other principles that have brought stability and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific.

It recognizes the value and values of our allies and partners,

For centuries, the United States and much of the world have viewed Asia too narrowly—as an arena of geopolitical competition. Today, Indo-Pacific nations are helping to define the very nature of the international order, and U.S. allies and partners around the world have a stake in its outcomes. Our approach, therefore, draws from and aligns with those of our closest friends. Like Japan, we believe that a successful Indo-Pacific vision must advance freedom and openness and offer “autonomy and options.” We support a strong India as a partner in this positive regional vision. Like Australia, we seek to maintain stability and reject coercive exercises of power. Like the ROK, we aim to promote regional security through capacity-building. Like ASEAN, we see Southeast Asia as central to the regional architecture. Like New Zealand and the United Kingdom, we seek to build resilience in the regional rules-based order. Like France, we recognize the strategic value of an increasing regional role for the European Union (EU). Much like the approach the EU has announced in its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, American strategy will be principled, long-term, and anchored in democratic resilience.

It calls for action in five areas:

  1. ADVANCE A FREE AND OPEN INDO-PACIFIC
  2. BUILD CONNECTIONS WITHIN AND BEYOND THE REGION
  3. DRIVE REGIONAL PROSPERITY
  4. BOLSTER INDO-PACIFIC SECURITY
  5. BUILD REGIONAL RESILIENCE TO TRANSNATIONAL THREATS

There is mention of the Coast Guard is in the section “BOLSTER INDO-PACIFIC SECURITY” on page 13.

We will also innovate to meet civilian security challenges, expanding U.S. Coast Guard presence, training, and advising to bolster our partners’ capabilities. We will cooperate to address and prevent terrorism and violent extremism, including by identifying and monitoring foreign fighters traveling to the region, formulating options to mitigate online radicalization, and encouraging counterterrorism cooperation within the Indo-Pacific. And we will strengthen collective regional capabilities to prepare for and respond to environmental and natural disasters; natural, accidental, or deliberate biological threats; and the trafficking of weapons, drugs, and people. We will improve cybersecurity in the region, including the ability of our partners to protect against, recover from, and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

Coast Guard roles presumably extend beyond interdiction and fisheries to include assistance with intelligence, port security, and maritime industry cybersecurity.

The strategy refers to ten lines of effort that are to be pursued in the next 12 to 24 months. The first is “Drive New Resources to the Indo-Pacific” (p.15),

Building shared capacity requires the United States to make new regional investments. We will open new embassies and consulates, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and increase our strength in existing ones, intensifying our climate, health, security, and development work. We will expand U.S. Coast Guard presence and cooperation in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific Islands, with a focus on advising, training, deployment, and capacity-building. We will refocus security assistance on the Indo-Pacific, including to build maritime capacity and maritime-domain awareness.

Sounds like this may include Coast Guard attachés attached to diplomatic staffs and possibly some new basing.

There is a second line of effort that will undoubtably involve the Coast Guard, “Partner to Build Resilience in the Pacific Islands” (p.17),

The United States will work with partners to establish a multilateral strategic grouping that supports Pacific Island countries as they build their capacity and resilience as secure, independent actors. Together, we will build climate resilience through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility; coordinate to meet the Pacific’s infrastructure gaps, especially on information and communications technology; facilitate transportation; and cooperate to improve maritime security to safeguard fisheries, build maritime-domain awareness, and improve training and advising. We will also prioritize finalization of the Compact of Free Association agreements with the Freely Associated States.

A Maritime Executive post, New U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy Singles Out China’s “Coercion”, notes,

In the security arena, the new strategy reiterates that the United States has maintained “a strong and consistent defence presence necessary to support regional peace, security, stability, and prosperity”, pointing to the South China Sea and the East China Sea as a priority. However, it is interesting that while the document underscores the importance of freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific, not a single paragraph mentions the US Freedom of Navigation Operations Program (FONOPS) carried out by the US Navy, which has stirred controversy. Conversely, the strategy emphasises the importance of the Coast Guard to lead maritime security cooperation in the region, in “advising, training, deployment, and capacity-building … including to build maritime capacity and maritime-domain awareness”. Indeed, in 2021, the US Coast Guard announced a joint maritime training centre with the Indonesian Coast Guard in Batam.

The emphasis on coast guard cooperation can be seen as a positive gesture since it will be less provocative and sensitive compared to a military presence in the region. And more importantly, coast guard operations in Southeast Asia are very much required to tackle maritime security threats such as illegal fishing.

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention. 

“Coast Guard, Partners Complete Cooperative Pacific Surveillance Operation” –Seapower

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart participates in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru off American Samoa, Oct. 29, 2021.
Operation Kurukuru is an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart/Released)

Seapower magazine has a report on the recently completed, 12 day, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru in the Pacific, intended to counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“The operation included 15 Guardian Class and Pacific Patrol Boats from Pacific nations operating alongside five Australian Navy, French Navy and United States Coast Guard vessels,” said Allan Rahari, the FFA Director Fisheries Operations. “Seven aircraft from the FFA, quadrilateral and regional partners provided air surveillance, as well as satellite surveillance and use of other emerging technologies.”

US Coast Guard participants include two Webber class WPCs, USCGC William Hart, operating out Hawaii, and  USCGC Myrtle Hazard, operating out of Guam, and a CGAS Barbers Point C-130.

The Pacific class patrol boats and their Guardian class replacements were donated by Australia help Pacific Island nations police their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Panorama of three Guardian class patrol boats at Austal shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia. The ships are, from left to right, the Teanoai II (301)‎, the PSS Remeliik II‎ and the VOEA Ngahau Siliva (P302). Photo by Calistemon via Wikipedia.

“The Pacific Islands Forum‘s Forum Fisheries Agency maintains a Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.”

“Coast Guard cutter returns home following Western Pacific deployment” –News Release

Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) crewmember Petty Officer 2nd Class Kurt Chlebek, a boatswains mate, is greeted by his dog after Munro returned to their homeport in Alameda, California, Oct. 20, 2021, following a 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission deployment. Munro’s crew departed Alameda in July for a Western Pacific patrol and operated in support of United States Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees military operations in the region. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Matt Masaschi.

Wrap-up of USCGC Munro’s recent deployment to the Western Pacific.

united states coast guard

News Release

Oct. 20, 2021
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Coast Guard cutter returns home following Western Pacific deployment

Photo of U.S. and Japan Coast Guard vessels
Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew returns home following 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission Western Pacific deployment Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew returns home following 102-day, 22,000 nautical mile multi-mission Western Pacific deployment

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution versions.

Alameda, Calif. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) and crew returned to their Alameda homeport Wednesday following a 102-day, 22,000-nautical-mile deployment to the Western Pacific.

Munro departed Alameda in July to the Western Pacific to operate under the tactical control of U.S. Navy 7th Fleet to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Munro’s deployment demonstrated the Coast Guard’s unique authorities in support of the Indo-Pacific command,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Joint operations help strengthen our partnerships through search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental response and other areas of mutual interest which preserve a stable and secure global maritime environment.”

Munro’s crew executed numerous cooperative engagements, professional exchanges and capacity building efforts with naval allies and partners, including the Japan Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic ResourcesRoyal Australian Navy, and Indonesia Maritime Security Agency.

“Our relationships in the Western Pacific are stronger today, and our partners are unified in their commitment to security,” said Capt. Blake Novak, commanding officer of Munro. “It was an incredible opportunity for our crew to participate alongside allies, sharing search and rescue and law enforcement concepts to promote peace, prosperity, and the sovereign rights of all nations.”

As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the U.S. Coast Guard is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of combatant commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft, and deployable specialized forces.

Munro is one of four 418-foot national security cutters homeported in Alameda. National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch, and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.

Photos from the Munro’s deployment are available here.

“Australia improving rescue efforts with artificial intelligence” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

RAAF C-27J conducts machine learning.

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum is reporting that Australia is attempting to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the visual search part of the SAR problem.

“Our vision was to give any aircraft and other defense platforms, including unmanned aerial systems, a low-cost, improvised SAR capability,” Wing Commander Michael Gan, who leads AI development for RAAF’s Plan Jericho, said in a news release from Australia’s Department of Defence. Plan Jericho, which was launched in 2015, is an RAAF 10-year blueprint to become one of the world’s most technologically advanced air forces.

It is a collaborative effort of the RAAF Air Mobility Group’s No. 35 Squadron, the Royal Australian Navy’s Warfare Innovation Branch and the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College.

“There is a lot of discussion about AI in [the Department of] Defence, but the sheer processing power of machine learning applied to SAR has the potential to save lives and transform SAR,” Lt. Harry Hubbert of the Navy’s Warfare Innovation Branch, who developed algorithms for AI-Search, said in the news release.

I have to wonder if this is related to VIDAR, which has been included in the Coast Guard Scan Eagle UAVs, and can this be applied to Minotaur?

“It’s Time for a ‘Quad’ of Coast Guards” –Real Clear Defense

A Japan Coast Guard helicopter approaches an Indian Coast Guard patrol vessel during a joint exercise off Chennai, India, January 2018 (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)

Real Clear Defense has an article which first appeared in the Australian think tank Lowy Institute‘s publication “The Interpreter,” advocating greater cooperation between the Coast Guards of Australia, India, Japan, and the US.

“The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still under utilized in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the Indo-Pacific would be through coordinating the work of their coast guard agencies.”

While India in particular, is adverse to committing to a military alliance, these nations share a commitment to a rules based international system.

Quadrilateral cooperation through the countries’ coast guards could provide an answer to this political problem. As principally law-enforcement agencies, coast guards can provide many practical benefits in building a stable and secure maritime domain, without the overtones of a military alliance.

Using ship-riders, this sort of cooperation could go beyond capacity building and uphold the norms of international behavior. It might lead to the kind of standing maritime security task force I advocated earlier. When coast guards are in conflict, having multiple coast guards on scene could insure that instead of a “he said, she said” situation, we could have a “he said, we say” situation that would show a united front against bullying.

Given Bertholf and Stratton‘s stay in the Western Pacific and Walnut and Joseph Gerczak‘s support of Samoa, which was coordinated with Australia and New Zealand, it appears we may already be moving in this direction.

 

Stratton Participates in Talisman Sabre 2019

Lt. Wes Figaro, a pilot attached to Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, guides a Navy helicopter as it lands on the flight deck of Stratton in the Coral Sea July 11, 2019.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Mieszala)

Below is a press release regarding USCGC Stratton’s participation in Exercise Tallisman Sabre 2019 hosted by the Australian Navy. This is a large biannual exercise. For the first time, Japan’s newly formed amphibious brigade participated in the amphibious landings as well as two Japanese ships. 

“Exercise Talisman Sabre will involve more than 34,000 personnel from Australia and the United States.

“Forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom will be embedded alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, and delegations from India and the Republic of Korea will observe the exercise. Eighteen nations from across the Indo-Pacific region have also been invited to an international visitors program.”

—-

U.S. Coast Guard story and photos by:
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasmine Mieszala

The U.S. Coast Guard participated in Talisman Sabre 2019 in July, a bilateral exercise held every two years between the U.S. and Australia, and this year’s exercise marked the first for the Coast Guard since the exercises first began in 2005. TS 19 was designed to train U.S. and Australian forces across high-end, mid-intensity warfighting scenarios and to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability. This exercise illustrated the U.S., Australian alliance and the strength of military-to-military relationships in the eighth iteration of the exercise.

 “We supported 7th Fleet amphibious operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Dunlevy, the operations officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Stratton. “We were part of an amphibious readiness group that conducted a combined exercise to move Marines and associated equipment ashore in a simulated hostile environment.”

One of the Coast Guard’s primary roles in TS 19 was to serve as a forward screening vessel. As the force moved north, Stratton was sent as an advanced unit to help identify possible landing areas for amphibious operations and to ensure the water north of the force was clear of threats before the force moved in behind Stratton. The crew of Stratton used air and surface assets to conduct searches as part of the forward screen.

“We’re learning about what it means to be a part of this exercise – where we’re falling short, where we have capabilities to add and where we don’t,” said Dunlevy.

Stratton is currently the only Coast Guard cutter that has small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) capabilities permanently attached the ship. The sUAS is capable of flying more than 16 hours, has a maximum speed of 60 knots and can provide real-time data to the ship to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

This capability allows the Coast Guard to provide real-time surveillance to battle staff and exercise planners, and it allows them to explore the skills and expertise the Coast Guard can bring to both exercises and real-world scenarios.

The Stratton is the Coast Guard’s third national security cutter (NSC) and is homeported in Alameda, California. National security cutters are the Coast Guard’s key interoperability platform in the afloat arena. NSCs are capable of executing challenging operations, including supporting maritime homeland security and defense missions, as well as operating in open ocean environments and supporting international partner agencies.

TS 19 included field training exercises, force preparation, logistic activities, amphibious landings, land force maneuvers, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and special forces activities. The exercise provided an opportunity to conduct operations in a combined joint and interagency environment that increased both countries’ ability to plan and execute contingency responses, from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.

“Talisman Sabre was key to the U.S. and to the Coast Guard because we were able to exercise relationships with our international partners, to conduct training necessary and to help maintain regional security, peace and stability,” said Dunlevy.

Though this is the Coast Guard’s first time participating in Talisman Sabre, the experience and knowledge gained from participating in the exercise is proving to be instrumental.

“We will provide an after-action report detailing how we were employed and how we think we could better add to the exercise next time,” said Dunlevy. “We hope the Coast Guard is invited back for the next Talisman Sabre. This has been a huge win for the Coast Guard.”