“U.S., Japan Coast Guards conduct joint counter-narcotics exercise in the Pacific” –D14

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Henry sails alongside the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel Mizuho during an exercise off Guam, June 7, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard completed the joint counter-narcotics exercise SAPPHIRE which stands for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule-of-Law Based Engagement 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam)

An interesting development in US and Japanese Coast Guard cooperation. This is apparently the first implementation of Operation SAPPHIRE announced in May.

This exercise does not seem to be an end in itself. It seems more like a tune-up for follow-on operations.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

U.S., Japan Coast Guards conduct joint counter-narcotics exercise in the Pacific

Joint exercise Joint exercise Joint exercise  

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download a high-resolution version.

SANTA RITA, Guam — The U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard completed a joint counter-narcotics exercise off Guam, Tuesday. 
 
The exercise was the first operational exchange between U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam and the Japan Coast Guard and was designed to promote cooperation between the partners in areas of mutual interest including maritime security and counter-smuggling operations.  
 
“What an incredible opportunity to conduct joint training with the Japan Coast Guard and be able to share law enforcement capabilities which will enhance future joint mission planning,” said Capt. Nicholas Simmons, commander of Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “These exercises further solidify our great maritime relationship and will prove to be invaluable during future missions.” 
 
The exercise was conducted between the crews of the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel Mizuho, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Henry, and U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. 
 
On Monday, the participants met at Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam for tours of the participating vessels and tabletop discussions to plan the at-sea exercise the next day. 
 
“Conducting exercises based off of real-world scenarios will boost opportunities to respond more effectively,” said Lt. Jack Hamel, the commanding officer of the Oliver Henry. “The cohesion and teamwork on display showcased that both Coast Guards have mutual interest in keeping the maritime commons safe and secure.” 
 
On Tuesday, the crews deployed for the at-sea exercise consisting of two counter-narcotics drills where the crews simulated locating and boarding a target of interest fishing vessel suspected of drug smuggling. 
 
The drills focused on methods of information sharing, vessel tracking, stopping measures, and inspection procedures for greater interoperability between the partners in the future. 
 
The two crews also conducted a personnel exchange and rendered passing honors between the vessels. 
 
The exercise was a part of the Japan Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard Operation SAPPHIRE 2022, which stands for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule-of-Law Based Engagement 2022, and was the second such operation held between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Japan Coast Guard, the first being held in San Francisco in May. 
 
SAPPHIRE was created during a joint document signing ceremony and celebration at Japan Coast Guard Headquarters earlier this year and was an annex to a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services which has existed since 2010. 
 
The purpose of Operation SAPPHIRE is to standardize operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing between the partners. 
 
The U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard have been bolstering each other’s capabilities and effectiveness since the founding of the Japan Coast Guard in 1948. The agencies work together to counter illegal maritime activity and assist foreign maritime agencies in the Indo-Pacific region in improving their own capabilities necessary for maritime law enforcement.

“New Drug Seizure By The French Navy In The Gulf Of Guinea” –Naval News

Naval News reports seizure of 1.7 tons of cocaine in an unusual place, the Gulf of Guinea, off the West coast of Africa. It was apparently incidental a normal French Navy deployment, not specifically a drug interdiction operation.

I found it a bit unusual that the cocaine did not appear to be well hidden. That might indicate how unlikely interception along this route may be.

Significantly this interception was conducted in cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network’s centers of the Yaoundé Process.

The “Landing Helicopter Dock” (LHD) Mistral, is certainly not the type vessel typically involved in drug interdiction.

The frigate involved, FS Courbet, is a Lafayette class frigate. This class always seemed similar in function to Coast Guard WHECs, because, as built, they had no ASW capability. Aside from the Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles they carried, in many respects their capabilities were similar, particularly after the WHECs were FRAMed. The French ships were built about aboout three decades after the Hamilton class. In some ways they apear to be as an intermediate design between the Hamilton class and the Bertholfs. FS Courbet is smaller (3600 tons full load), slower (25 knots), and has less range than the Bertholf class NSCs (7,000 nmi), but has been recently upgraded with a hull mounted sonar, improved point defense AAW systems, and later model Exocet ASCMs.

Photos to Share, Report of Collision and Two Canadian AOPS in Key West

An overloaded migrant vessel sails next to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Confidence off the northwest coast of Haiti on Thursday, May 20, 2022. The Coast Guard said the boat collided with the bow of the cutter. U.S. Coast Guard

Couple of photographs of interest.

First is a photo of a ship I served on, USCGC Confidence (now based in Florida instead of Kodiak). The photo is from a Miami Herald report, “Coast Guard says migrant boat collided with cutter off the coast of Haiti.(apparently very minor) Confidence is about 56 years old and still doing the job. I see four RHIBs in the photo and Connie has only two. No indication where the other two came from.

The second is from Facebook. What are two Canadian Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) doing in Key West? One has been doing drug interdiction with the US Coast Guard.

HMCS Harry Dewolf (AOPV 430) and HMCS Margaret Brooke (AOPV 431) alongside at NAS Key West, Florida in late May of 2022. HMCS Margaret Brooke is finishing warm weather trials on the ships cooling systems. HMCS Harry DeWolf is finishing a Op Caribbe with the USCG.

Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative

We are seeing what appears to be growing international cooperation to curb Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and with it, other forms of maritime criminal activity frequently associated with it. A basis for this cooperation is found in the non-binding UN Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative. 48 Nations have signed on to the declaration. It is basically a letter of intent to cooperate. It is reproduced at the end of the post. Notably it has not been endorsed by the US, Canada, UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, India, or China, but this is very important to many smaller nations. I would think the US Coast Guard would be all-in on this. It certainly does not preclude the kinds of bilateral agreements the Coast Guard has with dozens of nations.

How did I learn about this Declaration?

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, The Watch, reported on a March 2022 meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). This led me to look for more information on this organization. 

Below is the CRFM report on the meeting. Additional comments follow.


Belize City, Friday, 18 March 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) hosted a Technical Meeting on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry this week. It marked an important milestone in the region’s efforts to fortify the region’s response to this very challenging and costly problem, through coordinated action at both the national and regional levels, with the support of the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Blue Justice Initiative.

The CRFM, its Member States, and partner agencies both at the CARICOM and international levels committed to advancing their collaboration using modern digital technology, to strengthen the region’s response to illegal fishing and transnational organized criminal activities, such as drugs, human and small arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, document fraud and forgery, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities.

Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM Ministers, twelve (12) Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative, which supports developing countries in operationalizing the Copenhagen Declaration, aimed at “promoting a sustainable and fair Blue Economy for all, that is free from fisheries crime.”

The CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS convened the technical meeting of senior fisheries and maritime law enforcement officers to identify priority actions to strengthen regional and international cooperation to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector. The event marked an important milestone for the Caribbean region in collectively combating the scourge of crime connected with the fishing sector.

Over 90 participants from 15 Member States of the CRFM and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CRFM, CARICOM IMPACS, the Regional Security System (RSS), UNDP and the Government of Norway participated in the virtual session.

The meeting featured a diverse array of speakers who provided participants with insights on the Blue Justice Initiative and ‘Copenhagen Declaration, the UNDP Blue Resilience Project and its use of digital technology and institutional cooperation, tools and techniques to detect and analyze fisheries crime, and a general overview of fisheries crime in the Caribbean. Participants engaged in interactive sessions, as they contributed to charting the way forward.

In addressing the gathering, Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and Chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, said: “The fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Member States of the CRFM continue to honor our duty… It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy. We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments such as Norway… because every Member State in the global community must play an important role.”

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton noted the seriousness and impacts of illegal and criminal activities in the fisheries sector and expressed the CRFM’s appreciation for Norway’s commitment to the sustainable use of ocean resources, through the Blue Justice Initiative and the Copenhagen Declaration. He thanked the Government of Norway and the UNDP for supporting the region in its efforts to help address this intractable problem.

Important Dates:

15 October 2018:

The Copenhagen Declaration was initially adopted by 9 countries: Faroe Islands, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.

10 December 2020:

Several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States took part in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. The main purpose of the Conference was to promote and advance political support for the non-binding Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the fishing industry.

 21 May 2021:

At the Fifteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, Ministers discussed the issues and recognized the need for Member States to cooperate with other affected countries to improve understanding and knowledge of the problem, identify countermeasures, and build capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, in the region and globally. The Ministers issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021, documenting their position.

 4 October 2021:

During a special ministerial meeting, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters, delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration. (View the proceedings and country statementshere.)

Twelve (12) CRFM Member States, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and The Turks and Caicos Islands, signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.


This in turn led me to a CRFM report of a 5-8 April Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), an organization of 79 member states. Seeing this degree of widespread interest, I had to look up the declaration.


THE DECLARATION

We, the Ministers of Benin, Chile, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Greenland, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Kiribati, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Philippines, São Tomè and Principe, Scotland, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Uruguay;

Encourage other Ministers to support this non-legally binding declaration.

Note the recommendations and the outcome of the 2nd International Symposium on Fisheries Crime held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 10–11 October 2016 which was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at the occasion of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice during its twenty-sixth session in Vienna 22–26 May 2017.

Recognize that our countries are dependent on the sea and its resources and the opportunities it holds for the economy, food and well-being of our population and we are determined to support a healthy and thriving fishing industry that is based on fair competition and the sustainable use of the ocean.

Are committed to work towards the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals particularly in relation to Goal 14 on “Life Below Water” and Goal 16 on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.”

Are convinced that there is a need for the world community to recognize the existence of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and that this activity has a serious effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment and undermines human rights.

Recognize that this transnational activity includes crimes committed through the whole fisheries supply and value chain which includes illegal fishing, corruption, tax and customs fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, document fraud and human trafficking.

Recognize further the inter-continental flow of illegal fish products, illicit money and human trafficking victims in transnational organized crime cases in the global fishing industry and that all regions of the world need to cooperate when investigating such acts

Are convinced that inter-agency cooperation between relevant governmental agencies is essential at a national, regional and international level in order to prevent, combat and eradicate transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry,

Are also convinced that there is a need for international cooperation and that developing countries are particularly affected.

Recognize the particular vulnerability of small-island developing states and other Large Ocean Nations of the impact of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

Are also convinced the need for continuous support on the highest level and the necessity for awareness raising on these issues through events such as the International FishCrime Symposium.

Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) Doing Coast Guard Work off West Africa

ADRIATIC SEA – (Feb. 19, 2022) The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) sails the Adriatic Sea, Feb. 19, 2022. Hershel “Woody” Williams is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national interests and security in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)

The Navy League’s on-line magazine, “Seapower,” has a post, “USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams Completes Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Patrol,” reporting on the activities of this newly arrived 6th Fleet asset, the “first warship permanently assigned to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.”

And what was this 784 foot (239 m) ship doing?

In March, the joint U.S. and African maritime team interdicted an illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing vessel operating in Sierra Leone’s economic exclusive zone.

In April, as part of the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership, the joint team, led by Cabo Verde, worked in coordination with the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics, INTERPOL and Cabo Verde’s national Maritime Operations Center to conduct a compliant boarding of a Brazilian-flagged fishing vessel, which led to the seizure of approximately 6,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $350 million.

The US Navy regularly hosts Coast Guard teams in the Caribbean or while operating off Central and South America. US Coast Guard cutters have operated with West African nations previously. Coast Guard teams embarked on US Navy ships have trained with West African nations, but this may be the first time US Coast Guard teams, operating from a US Navy ship, have participated in law enforcement operations on the behalf of a West African nation.

“The cocaine trade is booming, and smugglers have their eyes on a new market” –Business Insider

Business Insider reports on the growing market for illegal drugs in Europe that is being supplied by Latin American Cartels.

For the US Coast Guard, this may mean that:

  1. There will be more drug trafficing in the Caribbean, particularly the SE Caribbean.
  2. That we may be seeing more European assets joining the drug interdiction effort.
  3. More drugs will be shipped on container ships.

“Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol” –News Release

PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol

09Feb22 DILIGENCE conducting small boat training in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. (Credit: BM3 Cayne Wattigney)

Below is a D8 news release. Sounds like a pretty typical WMEC Eastern Pacific patrol, but I would point out something I think is a bit unusual–they carried no helicopter. Awning over the flight deck and no mention of HITRON in the news release. Was this because of H-65 availability or because adequate air support was available from land bases? Maybe some other difficulty? Without a helicopter there is no armed overwatch and no way to chase down boats that may be faster than ship’s boats.

Looks like they left homeport a few days before Christmas.

 

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 8th District Heartland

Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol 2/2 Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returns to homeport after 60-day Eastern Pacific Ocean patrol

Editor’s Note: Click on images to download high-resolution version.

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Diligence returned to their homeport of Pensacola Sunday following a 60-day counter-drug patrol in Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Partnering with three other Coast Guard cutters, Diligence interdicted three suspected drug-smuggling vessels resulting in the apprehension of 12 detainees and the interdiction of more than 4,321 lbs of cocaine with a street value of approximately $82 million.

“Diligence’s crew demonstrated professionalism, resilience and perseverance while conducting complex high-speed boat pursuits in the drug transit zone,” said Cmdr. Jared Trusz, Diligence’s commanding officer. “I am honored to serve with and proud of the crew’s superlative efforts that directly support the United States national security interests.”

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.

The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the Coast Guard 11th District, headquartered in Alameda, California. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The Diligence is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Pensacola with78 crewmembers. The cutter’s primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

“Coast Guard Struggling with Southern California ‘Coastal Awareness Gap’ as Maritime Smuggling Rises” –USNI

Aerial view of the Port of San Diego with two aircraft carriers moored at North Island and three cruise ships in Port, from Oct. 4, 2012. Port of San Diego photo

US Naval Institute reports the Coast Guard is looking for ways to deal with a problem unique to Sector San Diego, a combination of proximity of Mexico and heavy offshore traffic.

“We’ve faced a major increase in smuggling,” Capt. Tim Barelli, commander of Sector San Diego, told an audience on the first day of WEST, a three-day defense industry conference hosted by USNI and Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. Incidents of smuggling have doubled, year over year, in the past three years, “and I’m doing that with the same amount of people, same amount of helicopters and same amount of small boats. So that is my biggest challenge.”

They are hoping technology can help.

I would point, out this is not just a drug or human trafficking problem. Terrorists could use the same confusing conditions to cover a maritime attack on this major US port city and naval base.

“Want to stop a Drug Smuggling Boat? Try out a High Power Microwave Weapon Systems” –Marine Link

MarineLink reports that the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division has been working on high power microwave systems as a way to stop no compliant vessels, and they want the Coast Guard to try it out.

“We are looking to provide the U.S. Coast Guard with an HPM system for a one-year operational utility assessment,” said Pete Cacciola, a project lead for vessel stopping efforts in the HPM Weapon Systems Division. “Our goal is to give them another tool in their toolbox for noncompliant vessel interdiction.”…HPM weapon systems, a type of directed energy weapon system, operate by generating and transmitting extremely high electrical power levels, focused on specific frequencies and directed by steerable antenna systems. The result to a target is disruption or destruction of key components, rendering the target inoperable with little or no effect on personnel.

Such systems are also likely to be useful against unmanned air systems (drones), also an emerging Coast Guard concern.

“SEA CONTROL 314 – A GLOBAL FORCE FOR THE GREATER GOOD WITH CAPT DAVE RAMASSINI”

Ships from the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard conducted exercises near the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Feb. 21, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, two of the respective services’ newest and most capable vessels, operated alongside helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball/Released)

CIMSEC brings us a podcast of particular interest to the Coast Guard.

I don’t really like podcasts myself. It seems a slow and inefficient way to pass information compared to reading. Inevitably, interviews are not as well organized as the written word. But then I don’t have a long commute anymore. That might have changed my opinion.

If you don’t have that long commute, I would recommend reading his Naval Institute Articles as a better use of time.

Of course, if you are not a US Naval Institute member, you may not have access to the full articles. We have discussed a couple of these earlier.

Don’t know how I missed writing about the most recent post which advocates a larger and more stable Coast Guard budget.

“Recognizing the various U.S. instruments of national power—diplomatic, information, military, economic, finance, intelligence, and law enforcement—arguably, no other government entity is as well-positioned, has the reputation for fiscal stewardship, nor has broader authorities and existing bilateral relationships to collectively exercise the full range of these instruments as effectively as the Coast Guard. It is time to properly include the Coast Guard in military rebuilding efforts to properly attend to business beyond U.S. borders that is booming with no remedy in sight. Coast Guard leaders need to get all GCC commanders on board to craft a 24-star letter expressing their need for a more robust and constant Coast Guard presence for the greater good of not only U.S. international partners, but also our own national interests.”