Chinese F/V Attempts to Ram USCGC James –AP

In this photo made available by the U.S. Coast Guard, guardsmen from the cutter James, seen at background right, conduct a boarding of a fishing vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean, on Aug. 4, 2022. During the 10-day patrol for illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing, three vessels steamed away. Another turned aggressively 90 degrees toward the James, forcing the American vessel to maneuver to avoid being rammed. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Hunter Schnabel/U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

The Associated Press is reporting,

“…a heavily-armed U.S. Coast Guard cutter sailed up to a fleet of a few hundred Chinese squid-fishing boats not far from Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Its mission: inspect the vessels for any signs of illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing…But in this case, the Chinese captains of several fishing boats did something unexpected. Three vessels sped away, one turning aggressively 90 degrees toward the Coast Guard cutter James, forcing the American vessel to take evasive action to avoid being rammed.”

Of course there is much more to the story.

“Coast Guard halts illegal use of “paper captains” in WA-based tuna fishing operation” –D13 News Release

Source NOAA: Albecore, Bluefin, Skipjack, Yellowfin, and Bigeye Tuna

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest

Coast Guard halts illegal use of “paper captains” in WA-based tuna fishing operation

ASTORIA, Ore. – The Coast Guard ceased the use of illegal foreign nationals on a commercial fishing vessel that operated out of the State of Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 19.

A Coast Guard Sector Columbia River law enforcement team inspected an 89-foot fishing vessel and determined that the vessel was in violation of the Jones Act – specifically, they were in violation for utilizing a “paper captain.”

Paper captain is a term applied to an individual listed on documents as a U.S.-flagged vessel’s captain but in actuality serves as a deckhand or in a similar lower-level capacity. It is the law (46 USC §12131) that a documented vessel be under the command of a U.S. citizen.

Many fishing vessels have engaged in a pattern and practice of hiring foreign nationals to serve on U.S. commercial fishing vessels in the capacity of captain, while U.S. nationals identified as captains on paper serve in subordinate roles. 

Many of these violations have been supplemented by underlying fraudulent documents designed to avoid detection and mask the illegal operation.

“The employment of a foreign national as captain aboard a U.S.-flagged commercial fishing vessel is illegal,” said Lt. Cmdr. Colin Fogarty. the enforcement chief at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Oregon. “The practice of utilizing paper captains subverts U.S. laws and regulations designed to protect hard-working American fishermen and mariners.”

In addition to violating the Jones Act, the vessel had several safety violations including: expired Firefighting equipment; expired. degraded immersion suits; an inoperable Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) hydrostatic release: and failure to conduct safety drills.

The Coast Guard issued a Notice of Violation for $3,000.00 and the vessel’s Certificate of Documentation was rescinded for violating the Jones Act.

Since 2020, the Coast Guard has detected a total of 10 Paper Captain Violations, primarily in the tuna fleets that operate throughout the Pacific Ocean. In total, Sector Columbia River and sister units have issued nearly $40,000 in fines directly linked to employment of foreign nationals as captains.

“USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) concludes Operation Blue Pacific expeditionary patrol” –Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam and What It Says About Cutter X

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) accesses the mooring ball in Apra Harbor Sept. 18, 2022, following more than 16,000 nautical mile patrol through Oceania. The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission U.S. Coast Guard endeavor promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships with our regional partners. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Ray Blas)

Below is a press release marking the end of an unusual patrol. We have seen several earlier press releases.

This press release gives us a bit more insight into what it took to make the patrol possible.

The Crew:

Everything I had seen earlier indicated Webber class had a crew of 24, but we have this,

“,,,with a crew of 25 and a lieutenant commanding officer”

The crew was also augmented.

“Guam’s Maintenance Assistance Team/Asset Material Manager leveraged current personnel to fill billet gaps….The Oliver Henry, which has no intrinsic medical personnel, also brought several folks aboard, including a corpsman from the U.S. Navy and a linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps…”We had HS2 Edge from HSWL Juneau and HM3 Hardnett from Naval Hospital Guam, who provided a higher level of care on board as we transited over 8,000 nautical miles down Australia. We also brought Lance Cpl. Mabrie from Hawaii, our Korean linguist aboard…We also brought MK2 Blas and YN2 Blas from Guam, who provided extra help for maintenance, photography, and administration while we were underway.”

Support: It did require something beyond routine parts supply.

“Working with U.S. Coast Guard Base Honolulu ensured the short notice delivery of $100,000 in mission-critical parts to the ship while deployed.”

Lessons Learned: 

This patrol once again demonstrated that the Webber class are exceeding our expectations, but the lessons may be more generally applicable.

It demonstrated that a ship with a crew of less than 30, much less than half that of our smallest WMECs (75 for the Reliance class), can usefully deploy and perform almost anywhere on earth, limited only by the seaworthiness of the cutter. That is not to say that a larger crew does not provide greater resiliance and opportunities to train junior personnel, but it does provide a proven minimum crew for a similarly equipped cutter, regardless of size. To this size crew we can consider the benefits of adding additional personnel for increased redundancy, self-sufficiency, resilience, damage control, training of junior personnel and additional capabilities like operating helicopters, underway replenishment, additional sensors, boats, or weapons, etc.

I think it argues for a class of cutter sized between the Webber class and the Offshore Patrol Cutters that could increase the number of more seaworthy large cutters beyond the 36 planned. Cutters with greater endurance, two boats, a flight deck, and a hangar for helicopter and/or UAS. I think we could do all that, with a crew of 50 or less, Cutter X.

Families greet the crew of the Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) as they return to homeport in Apra Harbor Sept. 19, 2022, following a 43-day patrol across Oceania. The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission U.S. Coast Guard endeavor promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships with our regional partners. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Ray Blas)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) concludes Operation Blue Pacific expeditionary patrol

Oliver Henry arrives to Apra Harbor Crew of Oliver Henry  Families greet Oliver Henry crew
 Oliver Henry at HMPNGS Tarangau School in Manus, Papua New Guinea Oliver Henry in Pohnpei Oliver Henry in Australia

Editor’s Note: Click on the images above to view or download more including b-roll video.

SANTA RITA, Guam — The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrived at homeport in Guam, Sept. 19, following a patrol across Oceania.

“The crew of Oliver Henry just completed a 43-day historic patrol across Oceania, where we patrolled and visited ports in the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. We also patrolled the exclusive economic zones of those countries and Solomon Islands during our time,” said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider, commanding officer of Oliver Henry. “Our trip was significant in that we validated the capability of the fast response cutters homeported here in Apra Harbor, Guam, showing what we can do to promote regional stability in terms of fisheries and continue to build a better relationship with our regional partners.

The crew conducted training, fisheries observations, community and key leader engagements, and a multilateral sail. They covered more than 16,000 nautical miles from Guam to Cairns, Queensland, Australia, and returned with several stops in Papua New Guinea and one in the Federated States of Micronesia.

“The fact that we can take these 154-foot ships with a crew of 25 and a lieutenant commanding officer and push them so far over the horizon, even as far as Australia — which is what Oliver Henry just did — is an incredible capability for the region,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “I’m proud of the work the Oliver Henry did, the resiliency of the crew deployed for 43 days, and they pulled off a variety of firsts – like first-time port calls in a couple of places like Papua New Guinea and Australia. Even more than that, I am proud of the resilience of the families. Not just the families of Oliver Henry but all the families here to support them and our local community here in Guam.”

In Papua New Guinea, the crew spent time on Manus Island and Port Moresby. They visited HMPNGS Tarangau School, spent time in the community, and engaged with Papua New Guinea Defence Force and local officials.

In Cairns, they conducted engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners, the mayor of Cairns, and Cairns Regional Council representatives. They also took time to engage with the International Marine College. Upon departure, they participated in a multilateral formation sail with crews from Australia and Fiji as the other ships departed for Exercise Kakadu off Darwin.

During their stop in Pohnpei, Oliver Henry’s crew hosted the U.S. Embassy team and an FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority – Fisheries Compliance Division representative to cover patrol highlights and future opportunities. The Oliver Henry commanding officer visited the FSM National Police Maritime Wing headquarters to discuss multilateral efforts. Finally, members of the cutter’s engineering team conducted a subject matter expert exchange with the crew of FSS Palikir, the last active Pacific-class patrol boat, on shipboard repairs and preventative maintenance.

While not the most extended transit for these cutters, this patrol does emphasize the Service’s capability and willingness to project into the far reaches of Oceania. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains strong partnerships with the maritime forces in the region through extensive training and subject matter expert exchanges. The U.S. Coast Guard conducts routine deployments in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific seeks to strengthen partnerships and execute a mission to support maritime governance and the rule of law in the region.

This patrol was possible thanks to vital shoreside support for logistics and an augmented crew. Guam’s Maintenance Assistance Team/Asset Material Manager leveraged current personnel to fill billet gaps. Working with U.S. Coast Guard Base Honolulu ensured the short notice delivery of $100,000 in mission-critical parts to the ship while deployed. The Oliver Henry, which has no intrinsic medical personnel, also brought several folks aboard, including a corpsman from the U.S. Navy and a linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps.

“We had HS2 Edge from HSWL Juneau and HM3 Hardnett from Naval Hospital Guam, who provided a higher level of care on board as we transited over 8,000 nautical miles down Australia. We also brought Lance Cpl. Mabrie from Hawaii, our Korean linguist aboard, doing sighting reports inside of other countries’ EEZs and high seas pockets,” said Lt. j.g. Marissa Marsh, executive officer on Oliver Henry. “We also brought MK2 Blas and YN2 Blas from Guam, who provided extra help for maintenance, photography, and administration while we were underway. It felt like they’d been here since day one, and the crew enjoyed the extra help; they had a good time sailing with us.”

The Oliver Henry is the 40th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship was commissioned along with its sister ships, Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) and Frederick Hatch (1143), in Guam in July 2021. These cutters are a vital part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s enduring regional presence serving the people of the Pacific by conducting 10 of the Service’s 11 statutory missions with a focus on search and rescue, defense readiness, living marine resources protection, and ensuring commerce through marine safety and ports, waterways, and coastal security.

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 @USCGForcesMicronesia.

“U.S. Coast Guard conducts high seas boarding for first time in the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization Convention Area” –District 11

A U.S. Coast Guard member raises the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO) flag on the Coast Guard Cutter James (WSML 754) in the Eastern Pacific, July 29, 2022. The Coast Guard completed a counter-illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing operation for the first time under the SPRFMO. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Below is a news release from District 11 (HQ Alameda, CA). This looks like it may be the leading edge of new major commitment.

SPRFMO covers a huge area, “about a fourth of the Earth’s high seas areas.” See page 6 and the chart on page 50: Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean

There are currently sixteen members of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation:

– Australia                                                – Republic of Chile
– People’s Republic of China                   – Cook Islands
– Republic of Cuba                                  – Republic of Ecuador
– European Union                                    – Kingdom of Denmark  in
respect of  the Faroe Islands
– Republic of Korea                                 – New Zealand
– Republic of Panama                             – Republic of Peru
– Russian Federation                              – Chinese Taipei
– The United States of America              – Republic of Vanuatu

Since the EU is a member, the number of states represented is actually much higher.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 11th District Pacific Southwest

U.S. Coast Guard conducts high seas boarding for first time in the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization Convention Area

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

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard recently completed an operation to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, within the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO) Convention area.

The SPRFMO Convention area covers nearly a fourth of the Earth’s high seas. The SPRFMO Commission consists of 16 members from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania as well as three cooperating non-contracting parties. In 2015, the members adopted a high seas boarding and inspection measure, which allowed the United States and all SPRFMO Members to board and inspect other SPRFMO Members fishing vessels, and record any suspected violations of SPRFMO conservation measures. The results of any such boarding by the U.S. Coast Guard, including any suspected infractions, are submitted to the SPRFMO Secretariat and the flag state of the boarded vessel for further investigation and action, as appropriate.

The Coast Guard has carried out counter-IUU fishing operations in other regional fisheries management organization areas for years. IUU Fishing has replaced piracy as the leading global maritime security threat. The recent operation against IUU fishing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean marked the first time in which the Coast Guard conducted high seas boardings and inspections under SPRFMO.

This effort also demonstrated the successful use by the United States of the high seas boarding and inspection procedures outlined in the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement – which SPRFMO adopted in 2015 – to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks.

“U.S. Coast Guard presence south of the Galapagos Islands beyond Ecuador’s EEZ provided an effective presence in a difficult to reach region,” said Capt. Jim O’Mara, chief of enforcement, Coast Guard Eleventh District. “The planning and execution of the mission represented a whole-of-government approach to countering IUU fishing. Moving forward, we will build on the success of this operation and continue expanding cooperation with all our partners.”  

The areas beyond any country’s exclusive economic zone are areas often exploited by fishermen engaged in IUU fishing, as they fish beyond the reach of most law enforcement entities. The Coast Guard’s operation directly supported Central and South American partnerships and their desires to monitor and enforce sustainable fishing activity near their exclusive economic zones, and expanded maritime domain awareness and information sharing throughout the newly expanded Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor.

The Coast Guard’s actions ensured law enforcement presence among a substantial fleet of more than 400 fishing and transshipment vessels. Much of the fishing in the Eastern Pacific is accomplished by distant water fishing vessels, in many cases supported by transshipment vessels. These large-scale operations traverse the world’s oceans, and can involve forced labor, human trafficking, and other human rights abuses, as well as maritime pollution. With their vast numbers operating in close proximity to one another, these distant water-fishing fleets may also have a significant impact on such environmentally sensitive waters as those of the Galapagos Islands, home to a vulnerable ecosystem.

Enforcing the rules of regional fisheries management organizations is about sharing the responsibility for protecting vulnerable fish stocks, the economic stability of coastal nations, the livelihoods of small-scale and artisanal fishermen, and protecting our ocean resources that feed global populations and fuel economies.

“Deploying our most capable national security cutters to the Eastern Pacific to detect and deter IUU fishing in the SPRFMO Convention Area for the second time this year is a clear signal of the U.S. commitment to support what is truly a global mission,” said Rear Adm. Andrew Sugimoto, commander, Coast Guard Eleventh District. We will continue to build on these partnerships, and leverage our unique authorities and capabilities to advance stability, security, and order in the maritime domain.”

“The Pacific Islands” –Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report

Estimated exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs). The EEZs of countries that are the Parties to the Nauru Agreement are shown in darker blue. Note that not all EEZs of PICTs have been officially delineated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Source: Patrick Lehodey

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a two page “IN FOCUS” brief on “The Pacific Islands” of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. Like all my links to CRS reports, this link will always take you to the latest version. It has already been updated at least once, 17 August, 2022.

Given the increased Coast Guard activity in the region, the report may provide useful background. The topics discussed are:

  • Overview
  • Geopolitical Context
  • The United States and the Region
  • The Freely Associated States
  • International Assistance
  • China’s Influence
  • Security Challenges
  • Self Determination

“U.S. embarks on ‘new chapter’ with Pacific island nations” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum

Indo-Pacific Defense Forum reports on promised new initiatives…the U.S. will:

  • Establish U.S. embassies in Kiribati and Tonga.
  • Ask the U.S. Congress to commit U.S. $60 million annually for the next 10 years for fisheries assistance. That’s almost triple the current U.S. funding for the South Pacific Tuna Treaty.
  • Appoint a U.S. envoy to the PIF, which White House officials view as the region’s preeminent leadership body.
  • Establish a U.S. strategy on the Pacific Islands, which will complement the nation’s Indo-Pacific Strategy released in February 2022.
  • Return Peace Corps volunteers to the Pacific islands.
  • Work toward reestablishing a Pacific mission of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Fiji.
  • Advance the Partners in the Blue Pacific, a multilateral bloc formed in 2022 and comprised of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S., to promote Pacific interests internationally.

(Seems like France should also be a member of Partners in the Blue Pacific.)

The US Coast Guard will certainly have a role in executing these initiatives, including continued cooperation in countering Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing, capacity building, and assignment of Coast Guard attaches to facilitate cooperation.

A base in American Samoa is looking more likely all the time.

“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).

“US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation” –PAC AREA News Release / “Royal Navy and US Coast Guard to Forge Closer Bonds”

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)

The Coast Guard has been busy increasing its international visibility. Below is a news release concerning increased cooperation with the Japanese Coast Guard that came out yesterday. Today, I see a SeaWaves report, also dated yesterday that,

“The Royal Navy and US Coast Guard have vowed to work more closely to fight crime and protect the planet. The two services already combine to stop drugs traffickers in the Caribbean and Middle East, assist each other with operations in the polar regions, run exchange programs for sailors and frequently work and train side-by-side around the globe.”

The new relationship with the Royal Navy includes expanded personnel postings that began back in 2014.

There are also plans to build on already successful exchange programs, which allows USCG engineers to work with the Royal Navy but will soon also allow pilots and aircrew to do the same. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

Perhaps we are not too far from exercising something like my proposed “Combined Maritime Security Task Force Pacific” with a US Coast Guard Cutter, a Japanese Coast Guard Cutter, and a Royal Navy River Class OPV working with navies and coast guards of SE Asia to protect their EEZ. Perhaps the Indian Coast Guard will join as well.

News Release

May 19, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

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

TOKYO — The United States and Japan coast guards formally expanded cooperative agreements and established a new perpetual operation during a ceremony Wednesday in Tokyo.

Vice Adm. Michael McAllister, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, and Vice Adm. Yoshio Seguchi, Japan Coast Guard vice commandant for operations, represented their respective services during the historic document signing ceremony and celebration at Japan Coast Guard Headquarters.

Although a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services has existed since 2010, strengthened relationships, increasing bilateral engagements and continued focus on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific necessitated expansion of the memorandum.

The new operation’s name, SAPPHIRE, is an acronym for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule of law based Engagement, and it honors the gem regarded as an emblem of integrity and affection found throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Operation Sapphire encompasses all the annual interactions between the Japan and U.S. coast guards, with the goal of increasing interactions over time.

To formalize the expanded cooperation, annexes were added to the existing memorandum of cooperation outlining Operation Sapphire to include standard operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing.

“We rely on our partners, allies, and like-minded nations to achieve our shared missions,” said McAllister. “As evidenced by this agreement, our relationship with the Japan Coast Guard is stronger than ever, and I am looking forward to many more decades of partnership and collaborative operations in the Indo-Pacific.”

“We will conduct smooth cooperation in the fields of joint operation, capacity building and information sharing by this agreement” said Seguchi. “Sapphire embodies the rule-of-law based engagement between the coast guards, and we will expand the principle of Free and Open Indo-Pacific to other nations.”

 

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. 

“Coast Guard begins multi-month fisheries enforcement operation with Bermuda” –News Release

Below is a 5th District news release concerning a new level of cooperation between the USCG and Bermuda to counter Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing. This certainly makes sense, since the Bermuda and the US share the same fish stocks. No matter where overfishing of that stock occurs, it hurts both US and Bermudian fishermen and our economies.

This seems to be the latest in a trend toward pooling resources, using the ship-rider program and Law Enforcement Detachments, to enforce norms for mutual benefit. Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory that lies 559 nautical miles (1,035 km) ESE of North Carolina. Britain, along with Canada, the Netherlands, and France, has been helping the USCG’s drug interdiction efforts.

(Bermuda is a great liberty port. I have found memories. Took my family back recently. I am sure the crews will enjoy Bermudian hospitality.)

The Bermuda Coast Guard was formed in February 2020.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Mid-Atlantic

Coast Guard begins multi-month fisheries enforcement operation with Bermuda

USCGC Angela McShan (WPC-1135)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Angela McShan (WPC-1135) is scheduled to arrive in Bermuda on April 6 as part of a multi-month fisheries enforcement operation in concert with the Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Royal Bermuda Regiment, Bermuda Coast Guard, and Bermuda Police Services. 

The cutter will be the first of four Coast Guard ships that will patrol seaward of the Bermuda Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 230 miles from shore. The joint operation will expand upon the long-standing U.S.-Bermuda partnership, as well as emphasize protection of the environment and living marine resources in this region. 

The operation is a result of recent meetings between Bermuda’s Deputy Governor Alison Crocket, Deputy Premier Walter Roban, Permanent Secretary in Bermuda’s Ministry of Home Affairs Rozy Azhar, United States Consul General in Bermuda Karen Grissette and Rear Admiral Laura Dickey, the U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District Commander.  The professional exchange focused on increasing efforts to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a global issue recently detected in the Mid-Atlantic.  

“It was an honor to meet Rear Admiral Dickey and her staff, along with the U.S. Consul and her staff,” noted Deputy Premier Roban.  “This operation begins a new chapter of cooperation with the U.S. Government in supporting illegal, unreported fishing and other unacceptable activity in our waters.  All is as a result of a meeting held with the National Climate Advisor to U.S. President Biden, Gina McCarthy, at COP26 where we discussed matters important to Bermuda and the United States.  The willingness of the United States to support Bermuda in our effort to oversee our EEZ is in step with our centuries’ long relationship as neighbors.  My gratitude on behalf of the people of Bermuda extends to the U.S. Consul’s Office in Bermuda for facilitating these meetings and the support we will get from the United States Coast Guard.”

As the worldwide demand for fish as a protein source continues to grow, IUU fishing will have a profound impact on the security of all countries with a maritime boundary. Left unenforced, IUU fishing will threaten global geo-political security, undermine maritime governance, and impact a nation’s ability to achieve domestic food security.

“We’re excited to join with Bermuda to help detect and monitor potential IUU fishing in the region,” said Rear Admiral Dickey.  “As we each work to safeguard our respective Exclusive Economic Zones, we’re fortunate to build on our long-standing relationship to partner together in this effort to protect global fish stocks and promote adherence to international rules.”

“The United States is proud to partner with Bermuda to promote security and lawful conduct in the Atlantic region,” added U.S. Consul General Karen Grissette.  “Reinforcing the United States’ security partnership with Bermuda is one of my top priorities, so I am proud to welcome these U.S. Coast Guard cutters to advance our shared interests.  This important operation is one more tangible demonstration of the close security collaboration between Bermuda and the United States.”  

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter (WPC) is a key component of the Coast Guard’s offshore fleet that is capable of deploying independently to conduct missions that include port, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, search and rescue, and national defense.