“U.S. Coast Guard participates in multilateral search and rescue drill off Palau” –News Release

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 19, 2022) – Capt. Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), renders honors as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104) passes Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233) during a multilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) coordinated with the U.S. Navy, Republic of Palau, U.S. Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Royal Navy in support of PP22. Now in its 17th year, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brandie Nuzzi)

Below is a press release reporting a multinational SAR exercise involving units from the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Republic of Palau as well as the US Navy and Coast Guard. (46 photos here)

There are some noteworthy aspects to this exercise.

Re the USCG: First that there is a Coast Guard liaison officer to the Compact of Free Association States, Lt. Cmdr. Field Cassiano. Second, USCGC Myrtle Hazard, commissioned just over a year ago has conducted “sovereignty and fisheries patrols with five Pacific island nations.” She has been very busy. 

Re growing Allied interest: The participation of Britain and Japan is relatively new.

The UK has recently shown renewed interest in the Pacific after decades with virtually no forces in the Pacific. The Royal Navy vessel in the exercise, HMS Tamar, is one of two River Class Batch II Offshore Patrol Vessels that have embarked on a five year deployment to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are plans to permanently deploy a task force to the area and there is also a growing partnerships between the UK and Japan.

Since WWII, Japan has generally kept a low profile in international affairs but with the emergence of an agressive and overtly hostile China, Japan has started to assume a leadership role in the region. She has transferred offshore patrol vessels to several nations in SE Asia. For the first time, Japan is starting to maket weapons internationally. I found it interesting that the Japanese participant in the SAR exercise was a destroyer rather than a Japan Coast Guard vessel. I have yet to see any evidence, the Japan Coast Guard is taking on an expeditionary role, as the US Coast Guard has done.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard participates in multilateral search and rescue drill off Palau

Royal Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233) sailors conduct boat operations with the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139)  Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), center left, takes a photo with the crew of Palau Patrol Ship PPS Kedam Capt. Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), renders a honors as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104) passes
Japan Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104), front left, Palau Patrol Ship PPS Kedam, center, and Royal Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233) transit the Pacific Ocean during a multilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) Capt. Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership (PP22), right, receives a U.S. Coast Guard challenge coin from Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer of USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139)  USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) transits the Pacific Ocean during a multilateral search and rescue exercise (SAREX) coordinated with the U.S. Navy, Republic of Palau, U.S. Coast Guard, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Royal Navy in support of Pacific Partnership 2022

Editors’ Note: To view more or download high-resolution photos click on the images above. Photos courtesy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandie Nuzzi, USN.

SANTA RITA, Guam — In a bid to strengthen relationships and interoperability, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a multilateral search and rescue drill alongside longtime partners from the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Republic of Palau in late July.

“We thrive on these opportunities, and we all came away with a deepened appreciation for the work of our respective agencies,” said Lt. Cmdr. Field Cassiano, Coast Guard liaison officer to the Compact of Free Association States. “Anyone who spends time in the Pacific is no stranger to the region’s vast distances and limited resources. Evolutions like this provide invaluable face-to-face interaction and enable us to work through challenges before an incident or crisis.”

Such events range from something akin to the search for Amelia Earhart to the far more common activity of a small skiff of fishers gone missing. It could also include a large-scale response for a disabled cruise ship or search and rescue of the crew of a commercial vessel like the car carrier Cougar Ace which heeled over at sea before being towed into port in 2008.

In this drill, the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) crew, with support from the U.S. Coast Guard Fourteenth District and U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam, worked with the crews of the Palau Patrol Ship PPS Kedam, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Kirisame (DD 104), and Royal Navy River Class vessel HMS Tamar (P233).

“Thoughtful planning led to realistic scenarios that were positively challenging, which demanded teamwork, shared vision, and high-level navigational expertise,” said Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer of USCGC Myrtle Hazard. “It is fully in the realm of possibility that our partners and we will be called upon to support those in need, in heavy weather, near reefs, with a limited time to respond. Through drills such as those conducted this week, our multinational maritime response team remains ready to not only meet but exceed the needs of those our team serves.”

With decades of experience and one of the largest maritime rescue regions in the world, the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific works together with partners and neighbors to provide life-saving coverage throughout the region. The United States maintains several formal agreements with partners under strict compliance with international laws and regulations. These agreements include Search and Rescue (SAR) agreements with Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Palau, among other regional nations.

Historically, the U.S. Coast Guard and Palau hold regular search and rescue engagements to improve cooperation and processes between the Service and counterparts in Palau. This drill, one facet of Pacific Partnership 22, comes on the heels of a very successful humanitarian assistance and disaster relief workshop with 120 personnel trained.

Charles Maynard of the Royal Navy, serving as deputy mission commander of PP22, was on hand to oversee the exercise, part of PP22’s Palau phase.

The coordination between partner nations during PP22 enhanced understanding and cooperation and prepared those involved to respond in the case of a natural disaster or other humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario. Pacific Partnership contributes to regional stability and security through exchanges that foster enduring partnerships, trust, and interoperability between nations.

Now in its 17th year, Pacific Partnership is the most extensive annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific.

The Myrtle Hazard is the 39th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship arrived in Guam and commissioned along with its sister ships, Oliver Henry and Frederick Hatch, in July 2021. In the time since, the crew has participated in Operation Blue Pacific, conducting sovereignty and fisheries patrols with five Pacific island nations.

For more U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam news visit us on DVIDS or subscribe! You can also visit us on Facebook at @USCGSectorGuam.

-USCG-

“USCG Report: Small Cutters Prove They Can Patrol a Big Ocean” –Marine Link

We have noted before, that the Coast Guard is using Webber class WPCs more like Medium Endurance Cutters than like “Fast Response Cutters” here, here, and here. No where have their capabilities been pushed harder than in the 14th District in the Central and Western Pacific.

Increased illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in US and neighboring island EEZs, US obligations under the Compact of Free Association, and desire to avoid the destruction of fisheries resources essential to the properity of the region has resulted in a need to push these little ships into remote areas of the Pacific.

Marine Link has a report about the use of Webber class FRCs for long distance patrols in the Western Pacific. This is a particularly good report in that it records not only the successes, but also the limitations that worry the crews on these demanding deployments.

Food and Fuel are major concerns

The nominal range for the Webber class WPCs is 2500 nautical miles (nmi) at 14 knots. Attempting to stretch that range requires some compromises. Fuel margins have proven adequate, but they are thin and running engines at their most economical speed takes a toll. The need to minimize fuel consumption to make the great distancces requires running the engines at low RPM,

Sabatini said that the lower speed poses some other problems for the engines. “The diesels are really designed to operate at higher RPMs. When we were going for a week to ten days at a relatively slow speed, the carbon isn’t getting blown out. So, I was worried about that build up, and concerned about replacing injectors at a high rate than normal.”

It also means that almost any diversion, weather avoidance, or even adverse weather will cut into that margin.

The nominal endurance is five days. As built there is simply not enough storage space for food.

“We had extra freezers and reefers on the bridge and out of the mezzanine deck.”

I presume the mezzanine deck is the clear area between the bridge and the Mk38 gun mount that is marked for vertical replenishment. When I got to tour the Bailey Barco (WPC-1122) while it was enroute to Alaska, there was a lot of gear stowed on deck in that area. Apparently that worked, but I can imagine situations where the seas might wash some gear stowed there over the side.

I have also heard that the on-board laundery facilities are inadequate for prolonged patrols.

So far, most of these long Webber class deployments seem to have been accompanied by a larger cutter, but I got the impression from the post that that may be changing since the Webber class have proven their ability to make the voyages unsupported.

Medical Facilities

The lack of any onboard medical assistance is also worrysome. The report notes this as a danger to the crewmembers, but it also means the ship is not well equipped to provide medical assistance if required in a SAR case. The possible distance from shoreside medical facilities may also mean they would have to maintain a 10 knot economical speed rather than being able to go to speed to the nearest shore facility.

The Future

That the Webber class have proven capable of doing these missions comes as a pleasant surprise because they would not normally be our first choice for covering these great distances. What might we do to make these missions less challenging?

We might base some of the OPCs in the Hawaii or Guam. This may be possible specifically because the Webber class have proven capable of performing missions previously handled by Atlantic Area WMECs. That is probably desirable in the long term, but there is a more immediate solution. Base two, or preferably three, Webber class in American Samoa.

A base in Pago Pago, American Samoa would make unneccessary any routine transits longer than the nominal five day endurance and more than 2000 nmi that are now required to reach parts of the US EEZ and Western Pacific Island nations. A base in Pago Pago would put these ships within less than five days and less than 1500 nmi of Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu (1260 nmi), Tarawa (1373 nmi) and New Caladonia (1416 nmi).

“U.S. presence in Palau could balance Beijing’s aggression, analysts say” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

The Indo-Pacific Defense Forum has a short article about the desirability of a US defense presence in Palau. Much of it is about Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing, so it is largely concerning the Coast Guard.

There has already been some talk about basing Webber class WPCs in Palau.

The area may best be remembered for the Battle of Peleliu.