“New Analysis: Squid Fishing North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink” –Trygg Mat Tracking

Below is an announcement of publication of a brief from Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), regarding Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing in the Northwest Indian Ocean.

I think this is something the Coast Guard units of PATFORSWA might become involved with, at least in a training and capacity building role.

This is a quote from the website explaining how TMT sees its mission.

“TMT provides national fisheries authorities and international organisations with fisheries intelligence and analysis, to assist enforcement actions and broader improvements in fisheries governance.  While TMT works with governments and organisations worldwide, particular focus is on targeting illegal fishing and associated fisheries crime in and near African waters and assisting coastal African States.”


New Analysis: Squid Fishing North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink

December 8th 2021: TMT has been monitoring the high seas squid fishery taking place in the northwest Indian Ocean since 2017. The fishery is currently unregulated and has seen significant expansion year on year.

Earlier this year we were able for the first time to ground truth and document the activities of some of the vessels involved at sea – rather than relying on AIS and other satellite sources only – and have produced a brief: Squid Fishing in the North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink.

The brief provides extensive images of the fishing activities taking place. This has provided us with extensive new understanding of this operation, but also raises many new questions and concerns.

Key findings of our analysis include:

·        There are very low levels of AIS transmission by some vessels – a significant number of vessels were identified which transmitted over AIS whilst en route to the region and then switched AIS off or transmitted only very intermittently whilst on the fishing ground. Further to this, the quality of identifying information transmitted over AIS was often poor, making it challenging to monitor the fishery.

·        Transshipment at sea was documented from fishing vessels to reefers, confirming that this is an important component of the operation.

·        There are indications of potential EEZ incursions into Oman and Yemen by vessels in the fleet, but no clarity if these are licensed or not.

·        The vast majority of the vessels were identified as Chinese. Equally the majority of relevant port calls by both fishing vessels and reefers are in China. Chinese research vessels have also been active in the area.

·        All vessels documented in the fishery are using a type of gear we have not previously observed, involving large ‘dip’ nets. Many of the vessels appear to be able to deploy multiple gear types. This is significant for several reasons, including that recent announcements by the Chinese Government to limit high seas squid fishing specified that this applies to squid jigging vessels only.

Recently high seas squid fisheries in the Atlantic and Pacific have quite rightly received significant attention. Quietly however a major fishery in the northwest Indian Ocean has also been growing year on year, but was previously only visible using satellite data. Now we have a snapshot of the operations at sea for the first time – and while some of our questions about this operation have been answered, many more are raised. The vessels observed were not jiggers as expected, but are using a new type of net gear. As well as squid the vessels are taking on board bycatch, including tuna species, fish the vessels are not authorised to catch. We hope this new analysis will help to shape appropriate policies and inform further action that will have real and lasting impacts on the sustainability of the North West Indian Ocean squid fishery and all those that depend upon it” said Duncan Copeland, Executive Director Trygg Mat Tracking.

The fishery is now starting up again for the 2021-2022 fishing season. As they do so it is important to note that this northwest Indian Ocean squid fishery continues to be subject to very little management and limited regulatory oversight. This represents a threat, not only to the sustainability of squid stocks in the region but potentially also to other regional fisheries, given the key role that oceanic squid plays in the marine food chain.

There is a clear need to address the current management gap as this fishery falls outside the geographical scope of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) and outside the species mandate of Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Positive engagement by China in this process is crucial, as flag state for the fleet and port state receiving the catches, and as the only party with relevant information on the species, catch levels and fishing operations.

This briefing has been produced by Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), with data and analytical support from Global Fishing Watch. At-sea documentation of vessels and fishing operations conducted in cooperation with Greenpeace International.

Download the 2021 brief: Squid Fishing in the North West Indian Ocean: Clear as Ink.

“Predicting illegal fishing activity is tip of the iceberg for mature AI technology” –BAE

BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

Below is a company press release, but it is an interesting one, with relevance to Coast Guard missions. The Obangame Express Exercise is one the Coast Guard has participated in, in the past. More info on the exercise here and here.


BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

The old “finding a needle in a haystack” analogy doesn’t begin to articulate the challenge associated with illegal fishing detection and identification. While a ship may be larger than a needle, the ocean is certainly larger than your biggest haystack. Add the need to not only find the ship, but determine its recent activities, anticipate future movements, and compare them with all other ships in the area — and do it in near real-time using open source data feeds.

At the Obangame Express event, which is the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa, BAE Systems’ Multi-INT Analytics for Pattern Learning and Exploitation (MAPLE) as a Service, MaaS for short, was integrated with SeaVision, the U.S. Navy’s premier tool for unclassified interagency and coalition maritime data sharing. SeaVision is a maritime situational awareness tool that ingests maritime vessel position data from various government and commercial sources and simultaneously displays them on the same screen in a web browser.

“Military organizations use illegal fishing as a model application due to the unclassified nature of the available data,” said Neil Bomberger, chief scientist at BAE Systems’ FAST LabsTM research and development organization. “Successful detection of illegal fishing activity helps address a serious challenge and highlights another use case for our mature artificial intelligence technology.”

Giving depth to data

While manual analysis of individual vessel tracks is possible, it gets exponentially more challenging and time-consuming for large numbers of vessels. BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams. This enables analysts to quickly answer time-sensitive questions, prioritize manual data analysis activities, identify higher-level trends, and focus on decision-making instead of manual data analysis.

During the event, BAE Systems’ MaaS technology processed streaming data and automatically detected vessel behavior events that SeaVision displayed as an additional data layer to support user-friendly and timely analysis. The technology provides full visibility into the data to allow the users to check whether the detected behavior warrants further investigation. This helps build trust in the automation and supports additional analysis.

Decades in the making

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs maritime sensemaking capabilities are rooted in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Backed by nearly two decades of development, their behavior recognition and pattern analysis capabilities continue to show significant utility in real-world environments.

The cloud-based artificial intelligence technology was matured via work on the Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program. In the months since the successful event, the FAST Labs organization has continued to develop and mature its autonomy portfolio. Elements of its autonomy technology have proven successful in multiple domains including air, land, and sea.

“This successful event delivers on the promise of mature artificial intelligence technology – easy to integrate, incorporating trust, and providing fast and actionable information in a real-world scenario,” continued Bomberger. “The event showcased how our artificial intelligence technology can be deployed in a cloud environment, integrated with a government tool, and used to address relevant maritime activities.”

“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 crews conclude Operation Aiga in Oceania” –News Release

The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry conducts a patrol in and around American Samoa, covering 8,169 nautical miles. The crew sought to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect the United States and our partner’s resource security and sovereignty. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the CGC Juniper)

This is at least the second time the Coast Guard has done an “Operation Aiga.” It is a clear indication we are taking Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing in the remote Pacific more seriously.

Earlier I published the press releases of USCGC Juniper and USCGC Oliver Berry reporting their individual participation in this operation.

It appears this operation has as a second purpose, testing Pago Pago as a cutter operating base.

“Using Pago Pago, American Samoa as a forward operating base between patrol periods, we maintained a strategic presence in the region, reported fishing vessel activity, and cited multiple violations under the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s conservation management measures while still continuing domestic enforcement action of U.S. flagged fishing vessels.” 

united states coast guard

News Release

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

Coast Guard cutter crews conclude Operation Aiga in Oceania

Oliver Berry

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

HONOLULU — Coast Guard crews completed Operation Aiga, a 46-day patrol in support of the Samoan government maritime law enforcement efforts by providing patrol coverage in the Samoan and American Samoan exclusive economic zones.

The crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) and Juniper (WLB 201) deployed from Hawaii to Samoa to provide operational presence and conduct bilateral shiprider operations with the Government of Samoa, in coordination with New Zealand and Australia to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and promote Samoan resource security and maritime governance in Oceania.

In the U.S. alone, the fishing industry employs about 1.3 million people and contributes $199 billion per year to the U.S. economy, according to a NOAA economic report. Combating IUU fishing is part of promoting maritime governance and a rules based international order that is essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

“Fish stocks are a global food source and provide economic stability for many countries in the Pacific,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Holstead, the District 14 living marine resource officer. “Depleted fish stocks due to IUU could contribute to the destabilization of the region and leave small nations vulnerable to dangerous transnational organized crime networks.”

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry traveled 8,169 nautical miles while patrolling the EEZ of American Samoa and Samoa during their deployment. The Juniper crew serviced vital aids to navigation in Pago Pago Harbor and in neighboring islands during their 10,000 nautical-mile patrol in support of Operation Aiga. 

“While in the South Pacific, we patrolled the Samoan and American Samoan EEZs for a total of 380 hours,” said Lt. Micah Howell, the Oliver Berry’s commanding officer. “Using Pago Pago, American Samoa as a forward operating base between patrol periods, we maintained a strategic presence in the region, reported fishing vessel activity, and cited multiple violations under the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s conservation management measures while still continuing domestic enforcement action of U.S. flagged fishing vessels.” 

Coast Guard crews also conducted operations in and around American Samoa to enforce U.S. federal laws and regulations and maintain aids to navigation. 

“During the patrol, we serviced 12 aids that directly support safe navigation and the flow of commerce in the territory’s primary waterways,” said Lt. j.g. Ryan Burk, the Juniper’s operations officer. “We collaborated with local stakeholders to complete a waterway analysis and management system (WAMS) survey of the waterways which is the first WAMS completed for American Samoa since 2003 allowing the Coast Guard to assess and improve the safety and efficiency of the territory’s waterways.”

‘Aiga,’ the Samoan word for family, represents the bond between the United States and the rich Samoan culture with the common values that are shared. 

For breaking news follow us on twitter @USCGHawaiiPac

“Coast Guard Cutter Juniper completes patrol in Oceania” –D14

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) return to Honolulu after completing a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga, Oct. 1, 2021. The Juniper is a 225-foot Juniper-Class seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu, the crew is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port, and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Juniper)

Another out of the ordinary patrol and an indication of interest in both illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and our Oceania partners.

Note also used to refuel Webber class WPC USCGC Oliver Berry, also involved in the operation.

united states coast guard

News Release

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

Coast Guard Cutter Juniper completes patrol in Oceania

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

HONOLULU — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) returned to Honolulu after completing a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga on Friday.

During the 10,000 nautical-mile patrol, the cutter’s crew conducted operations to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and strengthened relations with foreign allies while promoting the collective maritime sovereignty and resource security of partner nations in the Indo-Pacific.

Operation “Aiga,” the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with our Pacific Island Country partners in order to effectively and efficiently protect shared national interests, combat IUU fishing, and strengthen maritime governance on the high seas.

“During our deployment in Oceania, Juniper conducted fisheries enforcement in an effort to counter and deter illegal fishing activities in the Central Pacific,” said Cmdr. Chris Jasnoch, the Juniper’s commanding officer. “We were able to establish a presence on the high seas and in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in American Samoa while also patrolling our partner nation’s EEZs.”

The Juniper’s crew worked under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which strives to protect the region’s fish stocks on the high seas. The WCPFC has 26 member nations and 7 participating territories, 18 of which have enforcing authority. The United States is both a WCPFC member and an enforcing nation.

“We get to take part in a unique, rewarding mission in the Pacific,” said Lt. j.g. Ryan Burk, the operations officer on the Juniper. “We have the privilege of building and strengthening relationships with our Pacific Island partners, while protecting and preserving global resources.”

During the patrol the Juniper embarked a Mandarin linguist from the U.S. Marine Corps to query 11 foreign fishing vessels and board 4 fishing vessels, generating vital information reports for IUU in the region.

The crew also conducted joint operations with a French Navy Falcon-200 aircraft to identify and intercept vessels on the high seas. They also conducted a fueling evolution with the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry’s crew, another participant in Operation ‘Aiga.

“We strengthened our joint capabilities with the French Navy in the fight against IUU fishing activities on the high seas in support of the WCPFC,” said Jasnoch.

To promote American Samoa’s maritime transportation system, the Juniper crew serviced vital aids to navigation in Pago Pago Harbor and in neighboring islands, demonstrating the cutter’s multi-mission capabilities.

In addition to normal buoy maintenance, Juniper accomplished the first Waterways Analysis and Management System Report for Pago Pago since 2003. This report integrates the opinions of Pago Pago Harbor’s regular users to review the relevance of existing aids and reevaluate where new aids would be useful, ensuring the sustainability and safety of the waterway.

Juniper’s crew also put together a donation box for the children in Pago Pago, including: sporting equipment, books and toys for the Boys and Girls Club of American Samoa.

“Despite COVID restrictions preventing an in-person event, it felt good to know that we made a difference,” said Ensign Elaine Weaver, the Juniper’s community relations officer.

The Juniper is a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu and is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection.

For breaking news follow us on twitter @USCGHawaiiPac

“Coast Guard Booth Presentations at Sea Air Space 2021” –CG-9

22 meter saildrone Ocean Mapping UAS

The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) has provided media used in the Coast Guard’s presentation booths at Sea Air Space 2021, August 2 and 3. While certainly not a substitute for being there, they do provide insights into programs and concerns.

Coast Guard Booth Presentations at Sea Air Space 2021

  • Blue Technology Center of Expertise (BTCOE)
    Overview Blue Technology Center of Expertise presentation
    Ms. Jennifer Ibaven and Dr. Peter Vandeventer, BTCOE Program Managers, Office of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation (CG-926)
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 3-3:30p.m.
  • Coast Guard Detachment at DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit
    DIU & USCG Overview presentation
    Cmdr. Michael Nordhausen, Liaison Officer to Defense Innovation Unit
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 4-4:30p.m.
  • Unmanned Systems
    U.S. Coast Guard Unmanned Systems presentation
    Capt. Thom Remmers, Assistant Commandant for Capabilities Unmanned Systems Cross-Functional Team Lead
    Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, 2:30-3p.m.
  • The Future of the Arctic
    U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Policy presentation
    Mr. Shannon Jenkins, Senior Arctic Policy Advisor
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 11-11:30a.m.
  • Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing
    U.S Coast Guard IUU Fishing Strategic Outlook presentation
    Cmdr. James Binniker, Office of Law Enforcement Policy, Living Marine Resources and Marine Protected Resources Enforcement Division
    Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, 2:30-3p.m.

“SHOWING UP IS HALF THE BATTLE: U.S. MARITIME FORCES IN THE INDIAN OCEAN” –War on the Rocks

War on the Rocks has a good treatise on the growing importance of the Island nations of the Indian Ocean and why the US should take more interest. The author contends that while forming a new First Fleet Command, something the Navy is contemplating, would be a good start, there is much more that needs to be done, and the Coast Guard has an important part to play. The author mentions the Coast Guard fifteen times in the article. I have reproduced the portion of the article specific to the Coast Guard below, but read the entire article for context.

When USCGC Hamilton escorts the first two Webber class WPCs to Bahrain, hopefully Hamilton will have some time to do some capacity building in the Indian Ocean. Perhaps PATFORSWA will also be involved in a continuing effort.

A Coast Guard Initiative

Finally, Washington should look to its Coast Guard in maximizing its interactions with small island nations. While the Coast Guard plays a significant role in training Pacific island nations’ maritime forces, they are rarely seen in the Indian Ocean. As with the Pacific, the islands of the Indian Ocean, too, face similar non-traditional security issues as their primary challenges. Interactions between, and trainings conducted with, the Coast Guard and Indian Ocean island nations might carry more value at the operational and tactical level. Recognizing resource constraints and its limited capacity to deploy in the region, Coast Guard initiatives can come in the form of training and capacity building efforts. Many island nations such as Maldives, Mauritius, and Comoros have a coast guard tasked with both law enforcement and defense of their sovereign territories. Given the nature of their primary threats — such as illegal fishing, drug smuggling, and human trafficking — training with the U. S. Coast Guard will be a significant step forward for many of the island nations of the Indian Ocean. Such engagements could also help offset an overreliance on military trainings in Beijing, including interpretation of customary law and the U.N. Convention for the Law of the Sea. Chinese interpretation of customary and international laws at Sea are notably different than those of the U.S. and its allies.  However, these interactions should be extended to islands and littorals across the region, instead of limiting them to Sri Lanka and Maldives only.

The U.S. Coast Guard could potentially utilize some of its lessons and experiences from the Pacific in interacting with, and training, the islands of the Indian Ocean on a range of issues from law enforcement to surveillance to disaster response. Washington could perhaps borrow from its interactions as a member of the Pacific Quad, prioritizing engagements with island nations and their security concerns as a model for the Indian Ocean too. If the Coast Guard is to take on this additional mission, it will require additional resources, which may require a willingness to cut some Department of Defense resources previously devoted to ground wars in the Middle East and redirect them to the Coast Guard.

An Indian Ocean deployment leveraging all its maritime forces allows Washington to address two immediate concerns in the region. First, it would provide a singular node, or a specific agency, tasked with engaging with the region as a whole to bridge the gap resulting from the divided combatant commands. Second, a burden-sharing model with close partners and allies leveraging the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps aids the already extended U.S. Navy and its role in the Indian Ocean. This could help conceptualize a framework that allows Washington to deploy and engage its maritime forces in the region in a meaningful and, more importantly, an achievable way.

“U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stone (WMSL 758) completes Operation Southern Cross” –Press Release

Guyana coast guard small boats patrol alongside the USCGC Stone (WMSL 758) off Guyana’s coast on Jan. 9, 2021. The U.S. and Guyana governments enacted a bilateral agreement on Sep. 18, 2020, to cooperatively combat illegal marine activity in Guyana’s waters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hightower)

STONE has ended her highly unusual deployment to the South Atlantic. She still has not been commissioned yet. Almost five months away from their families. This crew deserves some time off.

We talked about the Brazilian OPV, hull number P120, seen in one of the photos over ten years ago. “Possible New Ships at a Bargain Price”. The British have built five improved versions of the class and Thailand has built a couple of the class with heavier armament.

united states coast guard

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area
Contact: Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs
Contact: LANTPAO@uscg.mil
Atlantic Area online newsroom

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stone (WMSL 758) completes Operation Southern Cross

Stone and Guyana defense force Stone and Brazil navy Stone in Montevideo
Stone observes foreign fishing vessel Stone departs Mississippi Stone Guyana coast guard joint exercise

Editors’ Note: to view more or download imagery, please click here or the images above.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The USCGC Stone (WMSL 758) crew arrived in their homeport of North Charleston, S.C., Monday, following the conclusion of the Operation Southern Cross, a patrol to the South Atlantic in support of counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Taking the newly-accepted cutter on its shakedown cruise, Stone’s crew covered over 21,000 miles (18,250 nautical miles) over 68 days. A mutual interest in combating IUUF activities offered an opportunity to collaborate for Stone’s crew. They interacted with partners in Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, and Portugal, strengthening relationships and laying the foundation for increased partnerships to counter illicit maritime activity.

“I could not be more proud of this crew. It was no easy feat to assemble a crew and ready a cutter for sea, but to do so in a COVID-19 environment followed by a two-month patrol is truly quite amazing. While at sea, we completed all patrol objectives and strategic engagements with like-minded partners. Our crew training was balanced with shining a big spotlight on illegal fishing practices in the South Atlantic. We arrived at our homeport on Monday after nearly five months away from families and will now receive some well-deserved rest,” said Capt. Adam Morrison, the Stone’s commanding officer.

Even before leaving the pier, the Stone set milestones. They are the first U.S. Coast Guard cutter with a Portuguese navy member to serve aboard. Lt. Miguel Dias Pinheiro, a Portuguese navy helicopter pilot, joined the Stone’s crew for the entirety of their first patrol.

Pinheiro served as both an observer and a linguist for daily operations. Further, he lent shipboard aviation experience. On this patrol, Stone certified their flight deck for aviation operations and embarked an aviation detachment from Air Station Houston. His participation in the patrol has already led to reciprocal activity with Portugal.

“Working with our partner nations has not only strengthened our working relationships but has allowed the crew of the Stone to conduct training evolutions that we don’t often get to do,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason McCarthey, the Stone’s operations officer.

While in transit to conduct joint operations off Guyana’s coast, Stone encountered and interdicted a suspected narcotic trafficking vessel south of the Dominican Republic. Having stopped the illicit activity, Stone handed off the case to the USCGC Raymond Evans (WPC 1110), a fast response cutter from Key West, Florida, and continued their patrol south.

Stone’s team practiced communications with the Guyana Defense Force during a fast-paced interdiction scenario. This evolution required focus and attention on both sides of the radio.

In Brazil, the crew practiced communications and steaming in close formation, an essential skill for joint and combined operations. Stone’s team also gave presentations to the Brazil navy members on maritime law enforcement practices and tactics.

“Having the opportunity to work together and exchange ideas helps us all become more proficient in achieving our shared goals,” said McCarthey.

Stone was the first U.S. Coast Guard cutter to call in Uruguay in over a decade. Stone’s crew familiarized their hosts on the Coast Guard’s full range of mission and operations, answering technical questions and sharing best practices. Uruguay expressed further interest in additional professional exchange opportunities and joint operations in the future. 

The Stone crew were given a unique opportunity to forge new bonds and strengthen the foundations of previous alliances in the face of a global crisis and did so through in-person and virtual engagement, conscious of the risks involved.

“We are very keen to not only negotiate international agreements to address IUU fishing, as we did with the Port State Measures Agreement. We’re also very supportive of the work Coast Guard is doing to build relationships and strengthen the operational effectiveness of all of the coastal states to combat IUU fishing,” said David Hogan, acting director of The Office of Marine Conservation, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

Operation Southern Cross promises to expand U.S. relationships with these partner governments. Beyond Operation Southern Cross’s immediacy, the U.S. government intends these collaborations to promote long-term regional stability, security, and economic prosperity.

Stone’s crew now prepares for their commissioning on March 19.

The cutter’s namesake is the late Cmdr. Elmer “Archie” Fowler Stone, who in 1917 became the Coast Guard’s first aviator and, two years later, was one of two pilots to successfully make a transatlantic flight in a Navy seaplane landing in Portugal. 

“Coast Guard Cutter Kimball conducts patrol to increase maritime presence and support in Pacific” –D14

USCGC Kimball (WMSL 756) U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir

Below is a press release from District 14. This is a demonstration of the Coast Guard’s growing commitment to countering Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing in the Western Pacific

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230
After Hours: HawaiiPacific@uscg.mil
14th District online newsroom

Coast Guard Cutter Kimball conducts patrol to increase maritime presence and support in Pacific

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

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL-756) concluded a successful two week expeditionary patrol in support of counter-illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries enforcement, furthering the United States’ commitment to regional security and partnerships.

As part of Operation Blue Pacific, the crew of the Kimball deployed in support of national security goals of stability and security throughout the Indo-Pacific; the crew of the Kimball remains prepared to utilize training in targeted and intelligence-driven enforcement actions as well as counter predatory irresponsible maritime behavior.

While patrolling approximately 3,600 miles in the Philippine Sea, the Kimball’s law enforcement team conducted its first ever at-sea boarding and expanded on the multilateral fisheries enforcement cooperations such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

The WCPFC is an international body made up of 43 nations and international organizations. Members agree to allow the 13 countries in the pact to board and record any potential violations on their nationally flagged vessels. The findings go to the WCPFC, who notifies the vessel’s flag state of the suspected infraction for further investigation.

“Our presence in the area shows our partners the Coast Guard’s enduring efforts to provide search and rescue response and oversight of important economic resources,” said Lt. Cmdr. Drew Cavanagh, operations officer for the Kimball. “The ongoing presence of a Coast Guard cutter in this part of the Pacific to assist in determining compliance with conservation management measures established by the WCPFC demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the region and our partners.”

The Coast Guard combats illegal fishing and other maritime threats across the Pacific to protect the United States and Pacific Island Countries resource security and sovereignty. Combating illegal fishing is part of promoting maritime governance and a rules-based international order that is essential to a free and open Oceania.

While on patrol, the Kimball was briefly diverted to assist in a search and rescue case in the Federated States of Micronesia where they utilized a small unmanned aircraft system, or sUAS. Use of sUAS expands maritime domain awareness and provides persistent airborne surveillance on maritime hazards, threats, and rescue operations.

“Training is also an important component of underway time and affects our readiness,” Lt. j. G. Joseph Fox, assistant combat systems officer for the Kimball. “The team conducted law enforcement training as well as disabled vessel towing training for our newest crewmembers.”

The Kimball is one of the newest national security cutters to be homeported in Honolulu. These technologically-advanced ships are 418 feet long, 54 feet wide and have a 4,600 long-ton displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can accommodate a crew of up to 150.

Advanced command-and-control capabilities and an unmatched combination of range, speed and ability to operate in extreme weather enable these ships to confront national security threats, strengthen maritime governance, support economic prosperity, and promote individual sovereignty.

“SEA CONTROL 219 – USCG COMMANDANT ADMIRAL KARL SCHULTZ” –CIMSEC

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz visits with Coast Guard crews stationed in New York City. U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

(I meant to cover this earlier, but perhaps still worth a listen)

CIMSEC’s Podcast “SEA Control,” had an interview with the Commandant, Dec. 27, 2020. You can find it here.

At first I thought I had heard it all before, but toward the end, there were some surprises.

He talked about  Arctic, Antarctic, and IUU. He talked about the Arctic Strategic Outlook and the IUU Strategic Outlook.

Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated fishing got a lot of attention. He related that it was gaining visibility and had become a national security issue since overfishing has created food security issues for many countries. He pointed to Coast Guard Cooperation with Ecuador in monitoring a fishing fleet off the Galapagos Islands. Internationally he sees a coordination role for the USCG.

Relative to the Arctic he mentioned the possibility of basing icebreakers in the Atlantic and the need for better communications.

He talked about the Tri-Service Strategy and the Coast Guards roles in it, particularly in less than lethal competition.

More novel topics started about minute 38 beginning with Unmanned systems. He talked about the recent CG experiments with unmanned systems and went on to note that the CG will also regulated Unmanned commercial vessel systems.

About minute 41 he talked about the Coast Guard’s role in countering UAS in the Arabian Gulf. He added that we have a lead role in DHS in counter UAS. “We are in the thick of that”

GA-ASI Concludes Successful Series of MQ-9 Demonstrations in Greece

He said the service was looking at MQ-9 maritime “Guardian” (minute 45)

When ask about reintroducing an ASW capability he said that while the Coast Guard was looking at it, the service would have to be cautious about biting off too much. (My suggestion of how the CG could have an ASW mission with minimal impact on its peacetime structure.)

He talked about balancing local and distant missions and concluded that the CG could do both (47), and that the Coast Guard was becoming truly globally deployable (48).

He noted that the first two FRCs for PATFORSWA would transit to Bahrain in Spring, followed by two more in the Fall, and two more in 2022. (49)

He noted technology is making SAR more efficient. “Hopefully we will put ourselves out of the Search and Rescue business.” 50

He talked about the benefits of “white hull diplomacy.” (52)

Asked about our funding for new missions he said it was sometime necessary to demonstrate the value of the mission first, then seek funding. (55)

He also talked about raising the bar on maintenance.