“U.S. Coast Guard leverages aviation workhorse to overcome challenges in cutter logistics in Oceania” –Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

The crew USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) visit Ulithi Atoll on Oct. 31, 2022, the first time a fast response cutter visited the atoll and delivered 20 boxes of supplies, 50 personal floatation devices, and sporting equipment donated by the cutter crew, the extended U.S. Coast Guard Guam family, Ulithi Falalop Community Action Program, Guam Island Girl Power Foundation, and Ayuda Foundation. Ulithi was a central U.S. staging area during World War II, and home to a U.S. Coast Guard Loran-C communications station from 1944 to 1965 before operations relocated to Yap and ultimately shuttered in 1987. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Zena Suzuki)

Below is a press release that highlights some changes in the way the Coast Guard is operating in the Western Pacific, the employment of Webber class Fast Response Cutters for long periods at great distances from homeport and the much greater reach of the J model C-130s.  

Feature Story

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard leverages aviation workhorse to overcome challenges in cutter logistics in Oceania

Group photo CGAS Barbers Point and CGFMSG EO FN200 offload from HC-130 Technical installs FN200 bottle  Frederick Hatch departs Guam for patrol

Editor’s Note: Click on the images above to view more or download high-resolution versions.

SANTA RITA, Guam — Guam is home to three 154-foot fast response cutters commissioned in 2021. These ships are built in Lockport, Louisiana. After initial workups, they sailed from Key West through the Panama Canal, more than 10,000 miles to Guam. In the time since the crews have stayed busy conducting the U.S. Coast Guard’s core missions in Micronesia and supporting our Blue Pacific partners.

The Operations Area

For many of the Nation’s fast response cutters, the transit to homeport from Key West is one of the most extended trips they make. Those stateside remain close to most essential services needed to maintain the vessels, designed to operate within 200 nautical miles of homeport. In the case of the Guam-based fleet, they routinely go more than 200 nautical miles to get to the operations area. U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam has one of the largest areas of responsibility of any sector at 1.9 million square miles. Like its other overseas counterparts, the region can be austere and presents unique challenges.

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam (CGFM/SG) differs. The USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) undertook a more than 6,000-mile expeditionary patrol south through Oceania with inaugural FRC port calls in Papua New Guinea and Australia. Their sister ship, the USCGC Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143), just concluded a similar patrol in support of Operations Rematau and Blue Pacific, the southeast of Guam. The patrol countered illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing off the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Nauru by enforcing regulatory schemes and individual countries’ sovereignty while strengthening partnerships through shiprider operations, subject matter exchanges, and community engagements.

“What often goes unsaid is the logistics piece enabling the operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Manny Pangelinan, engineering officer for CGFM/SG. The Oliver Henry required a last-minute shipment of fuel injectors while underway, a package coordinated by the CGFM/SG logistics department with some support from the Surface Force Logistics Center in Baltimore. The package was shipped via a commercial carrier and met them in Australia.

But more oversized items and hazardous materials can present a more complex challenge. Guam is a strategic location, and as a U.S. territory, it is the first line of defense against regional competitors. Logistically, it is remote and depends on maritime cargo for most items. Nearly 90 percent of imports come through the Port of Guam, and travel by sea varies in cost and takes time. Commercial air freight requires less time but can be very expensive.

The Logistics Challenge

Each FRC has four bottles of compressed gas onboard as part of the fire suppression system. The current design of the FRCs uses FN200 powder and nitrogen gas. Over time these bottles lose nitrogen and need to be recharged, the same as any fire extinguisher. If an extinguisher or system loses its prime, it may malfunction and not adequately suppress a fire. Stateside servicing this equipment is a simple endeavor, but service providers in Guam still need to be created. To further complicate matters, if a local provider converted existing equipment to service this system, it could only be used on FN200 to prevent cross-contamination. The U.S. Coast Guard is currently the only FN200 client on the island.

As the Frederick Hatch prepared for their patrol, the crew noted one of the four bottles was borderline between yellow and red on its pressure. No one wants to be over a thousand miles from shore, with a fire, and risk a system malfunction. But how do you get a 277-pound replacement bottle, considered a hazardous material, shipped from the mainland United States to the territory of Guam? And how do you do it in time to meet the ship’s schedule and enable the crew to fulfill their mission requirements in Micronesia? You keep it in-house and leverage the naval aviation community.

Coast Guard Aviation in Oceania

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii conducts search and rescue, maritime domain awareness and surveillance, law enforcement, and cargo and transportation operations throughout Oceania. They are currently the only U.S. Coast Guard air station in the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District, with the next closest aviation unit in California. Still, from 1947 until 1972, they operated an air detachment in Guam known as Naval Air Station Agana to provide LORAN support for Western Pacific stations.

Today, the Barbers Point team operates four MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and four HC-130 Hercules airplanes. The Hercules airframes were recently upgraded from the H model to the J model. For Guam, this is significant. The J is more capable as a long-range surveillance aircraft providing heavy air transport and long-range maritime patrol capability. Each plane can serve as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify, and identify objects and share that information with operational forces. It also has “long legs.” Where the H crews needed to stop for fuel en route to Guam from Hawaii, the J could make the trip in one leg if necessary. This advantage matters when time is of the essence, particularly in search and rescue cases.

Capt. John Rivers, CGAS Barbers Point commanding officer, recently visited Guam. He met with the CGFM/SG team to discuss options for more aviation support to Western and Central Pacific operations. Those ideas include more hours of Hercules activity in this region and possible use of the Dolphin helicopters outside Hawaii.

The Workhorse

Regarding transporting equipment, the aircrew, particularly the loadmaster, has the final say on what goes aboard the plane. The Barbers Point team and the loadmaster were crucial to keeping the Frederick Hatch on schedule.

The team flew the HC-130 Hercules CG 2009 to Sacramento to pick up the shipment of fire bottles, then returned to Hawaii to rest and refuel. Subsequently, they flew to Majuro and landed in Guam on Nov. 9 at the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport. The CGFM/SG engineering team and environmental contractors met them to further transport the bottles to the pier.

All told, the movement cost flight hours and personnel time – but that is the nature of logistics. Per Commandant Instruction 7310.1V Reimbursable Standard Rates, the inside government rate for an HC-130J is $19,782 per hour. This includes Direct Costs like labor, employee benefits, fuel, maintenance, etc.; Support Costs: Costs allocated to a particular asset class for the support received from Coast Guard support activities, including but not limited to Area Commands, Districts, Sectors, Sector Field Offices, Bases, etc.; and General and Administrative: Costs allocated to a particular asset class to represent benefit received from Coast Guard general and administrative activities such as legal services, payroll processing, etc.

However, our aircrews make the most out of every flight, coupling logistics with other missions and training whenever possible. Flight crews must also fly a certain number of monthly hours to maintain currency and proficiency.

The personnel hours, in this case, include the coordination and research by the CGFM/SG Engineering Team to enable the technician from the fire services company to come out, install and certify the new bottle. The team kept the cost down by more than $16,000 by flying out one technician instead of two and doing all the manual labor of removing and replacing the existing bottle with the ship’s force. Transporting a 277-pound bottle across the pier, onto the cutter, and into the space with a tripod and chain fall in 90-degree heat with 90 percent humidity is quite an undertaking. According to Reimbursable Standard Rates, the inside government cost of a CWO2 is $79 per hour, a Chief Petty Officer is $71, and a Petty Officer 2nd Class is $55. Still, these personnel, like the aircrew, are salaried. The figures come into play if the Service seeks reimbursement from another branch or outside entity for services. The outside government rate is higher.

One might ask how to avoid this challenge in the future, as this won’t be the last time these bottles need to be recharged. One possible alternative was building a facility to support the maintenance of these systems in Guam to the tune of more than a million dollars. Ultimately, this option was deemed unrealistic. Instead of a new facility, the engineering team procured a larger bottle of FN200 and equipment to be kept onsite to recharge the FRCs’ systems. The team will do the heavy lifting and fly out a technician for the final assembly and certification. Two complete sets of bottles were procured at the same time. The first set came aboard the Hercules, and the second will come by cargo ship at a fee of just under $4,000. However, as of Christmas, the second set of bottles are still in transit and will take around 75 days total to arrive, emphasizing the importance of the Engineering Team’s efforts and choices.

Forecast

“This team continues to deliver on the Commandant’s mandate to be creative and innovative to craft solutions to the challenges we face as a service,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of CGFM/SG. “I am impressed by their commitment and resolve to consistently deliver superior engineering support, keeping us operational in a remote environment.”

In the Fiscal Year 2022, the three Guam-based FRCs spent 324 days away from homeport, with 243 of those days physically underway conducting missions at sea. The other days away from homeport account for port calls, community engagements, and maintenance away from the home station. They worked 25 patrols throughout the region, enforcing the rule of law and strengthening partnerships. Guam’s sister sector in Honolulu also has three FRCs doing local and long-range missions. By comparison, they spent 202 days at sea for roughly the same number of patrols. This underscores the distances and demands Team Guam is covering.

“We have better platforms to help our crews get after the ever-growing mission demand here. But we must not lose sight of the demand on the crews and what is necessary to maintain our availability and effectiveness as a preferred partner in the region,” said Simmons. “That means putting steel on target, remaining flexible, and ensuring our crews have the support they need to succeed in a dynamic operational environment. I thank the CGAS Barbers Point team for ensuring our success and enabling the Frederick Hatch crew to work with our partners in Oceania and protect the Nation.”

This fire bottle transport is an excellent example of integrated logistics across the U.S. Coast Guard enterprise and innovation to find a timely cost-reasonable solution to keep the ship operational and on schedule. It is also a model for expanded Coast Guard aviation support to Guam.

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

Visiting Fiji and other Pacific Islands

Naval News points out the apparent strong interest of many nations in West Pacific island nations, “Pacific Port Visits Show Regions Growing Importance: Expert.”

Certainly the Coast Guard has been calling on a these small island nations with significant regularity.

We are not the only ones visiting.

Type 071 LSD Wuzhishan of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) alongside in Nuku’alofa, Tonga with an Australian Canberra class LHD visible in the background. (Xinhua)

The post points to visits by USS Jackson (LCS-6), the UK’s HMS Spey (P-234), Japan’s JS Kirisame (DD-104) and India’s INS Satpura (F-48).

Somehow, I suspect of all these, the Webber class WPCs, like USCGC Oliver Henry’s recent deployment, are the most welcome, non-threatening, the right scale, not showing off, just trying to help.

“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 port visit in Federated States of Micronesia” –CG Forces Micronesia

USCGC Oliver Henry hosts U.S. Embassy team in Pohnpei

The crew of USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) host Chargé d’affaires Alissa Bibb and her team aboard upon arrival in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, on Sept. 14, 2022. Following stops in Australia and Papua New Guinea, we’ve been patrolling to deter illicit maritime activity — most recently, to counter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in the territorial waters of the Federated States of Micronesia to assist in ensuring FSM’s sovereignty, resource security, and the rule of law. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Oliver Henry)

Passing along this news release from Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. It includes some history of previous operations in the area and illustrates connections made through the Academy.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard conducts port visit in Federated States of Micronesia

USCGC Oliver Henry arrives to Pohnpei USCGC Oliver Henry hosts Charge d'Affairs FSM USCGC Oliver Henry hosts FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority – Fisheries Compliance Division Assistant Director

Editor’s Note: Click on the images above to view or download more.

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia — The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) crew conducted a port visit in Kolonia on Sept. 14 – 16, following a patrol across Oceania encompassing the Coral Sea and the exclusive economic zones of Papua New Guinea and Federated States of Micronesia.

This port visit marks the sixth stop while conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific theater, following several stops across Papua New Guinea and one in Australia, part of Operation Blue Pacific.

During their stop in Pohnpei, Oliver Henry’s crew hosted Chargé d’Affairs Alissa Bibb and her team and Assistant Director Youky Susaia Jr. of the FSM National Oceanic Resource Management Authority – Fisheries Compliance Division. Thye covered patrol highlights and discussed future opportunities. Susaia Jr. is also a 2020 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a classmate of Oliver Henry’s executive officer.

The Oliver Henry commanding officer visited the FSM National Police Maritime Wing headquarters for an office call with Cmdr. Steward Peter 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 Guardian-class patrol boat, on shipboard repairs and preventative maintenance.

“We appreciate the time and support from our Federated States of Micronesia partners and look forward to furthering our shared commitment towards living marine stewardship and maritime security,” said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider, Oliver Henry’s commanding officer. “As a proud Micronesian, it was an honor and privilege to revisit Pohnpei, especially knowing that the crew truly enjoyed their time around the island to immerse themselves in the deeply rooted culture and experience such a beautiful place.”

The U.S. Coast Guard maintains strong partnerships with the maritime forces in the region through extensive training and subject matter expert exchanges. FSM, also known as the Big Ocean State, has one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones, with waters rich in sea life. FSM consists of four states —Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae—each has a mix of unique peoples, languages, and cultures and a total of more than 600 islands. FSM is a signatory to a Compact of Free Association with the United States. They are also a Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Association member and a party to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter fleet was last in the FSM in May, when the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) made a contactless crew rest and re-fueling stop during their expeditionary patrol across Oceania. In December 2021, USCGC Sequoia (WLB 215), working alongside the Navy’s Underwater Construction Team Two (UCT-2), conducted operations to widen the channel at Kapingamarangi Atoll, which narrowed due to marine overgrowth. U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam also provides search and rescue support to FSM.

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 seeks to strengthen partnerships and execute a mission to support maritime governance and the rule of law in the region. To this, we must understand, measure, and articulate regional influences and relationships and provide our crews with the best operational assets and support to get the mission done safely and return.

The 154-foot Oliver Henry is the 40th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. The ship was commissioned along with its sister ships, Myrtle Hazard and Frederick Hatch, in Guam in July 2021. In the time since, the crew has participated in several search and rescue cases, completed a counternarcotics patrol off Guam with the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel Mizuho, and conducted sovereignty and fisheries patrols in the Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam area of responsibility.

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.”

“Littoral Combat Ships Conduct Joint Oceania Maritime Support Initiative” –Seapower

“Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Oakland (LCS 24) stations behind a fishing vessel while Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific Coast Guardsmen conduct an Oceania Maritime Support Initiative (OMSI) vessel compliance boarding, Aug. 19, 2022. Oakland is deployed in support of the Oceania Maritime Support Initiative, a secretary of defense program leveraging Department of Defense assets transiting the region to increase the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness, and law enforcement operations in Oceania. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ian Zagrocki)”

The Navy League’s on-line magazine, Seapower reports,

Independence-variant littoral combat ships USS Jackson (LCS 6) and USS Oakland (LCS 24) deployed to the Oceania region with embarked U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team detachments to conduct maritime law enforcement operations in support of U.S. and Pacific Island nations fisheries laws, August 2022, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One Public Affairs Office said Sept. 7.

Certainly not the first time Navy combatants have embarked TACLETs, but the LCS do appear to be more appropriate than DDGs and it appears that, at least USS Jackson, is not just doing this while transiting some where else, “Jackson will continue the OMSI mission through September 2022.”

 

“Coast Guard exercises contract option to build one fast response cutter” –CG-9

CGC BENJAMIN DAILEY, the first FRC stationed in Gulf of Mexico, conducts flight operations with a HH-65 from Air Station New Orleans. Photo by Bigshipdriver

The Acquistions Directorate (CG-9) reports exercise of a contract option to purchace one additional Webber class cutter. I had been under the impression money was in the FY2022 budget for two more.

On December 10, 2021, USCGC Benjamin Dailey (WPC-1123) was heavily damaged during a fire while in drydock in Tampa, FL. I have not heard if she had been repaired. This might be a replacement. Readers’ updates would be appreciated.

I think we still need additional cutters if we are going to open a base in American Samoa. 


Coast Guard exercises contract option to build one fast response cutter

The Coast Guard exercised a contract option Aug. 9 for production of one Sentinel-class fast response cutter (FRC) and associated deliverables valued at $55.5 million with Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, Louisiana.

This option brings the total number of FRCs under contract with Bollinger to 65 and the total value of the Phase 2 contract to approximately $1.8 billion. The FRC built under this option will be delivered in 2025.

To date, 50 FRCs have been delivered, with 48 FRCs in operational service, operating out of 13 homeports.

FRCs have a maximum speed of over 28 knots, a range of 2,500 nautical miles, and an endurance of five days. The ships are designed for multiple missions, including drug and undocumented individuals interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; living marine resource protection and enforcement; search and rescue; and national defense. They feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; over-the-horizon cutter boat deployment to reach vessels of interest; and improved habitability and seakeeping.

For more information: Fast Response Cutter Program page

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

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

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

There are some noteworthy aspects to this exercise.

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

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

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

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

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-USCG-

“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.

“While China makes Pacific islands tour, US Coast Guard is already on patrol” –CNN

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro is tied up in Suva, Fiji, during a visit to the port city April 22, 2022.  The port call was part Operation Blue Pacific, that aims to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and strengthen relationships to enhance maritime sovereignty and security throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Office of the FMSRCC, Republic of Fiji Navy)

The Coast Guard got some national recognition for its work in the Western Pacific from CNN. It is being recognized as a counter to increasing Chinese influence in the region.

The Coast Guard’s website shows cutters have spent hundreds of days and steamed thousands of miles in the past two years helping Pacific island nations.

I have not seen this website, but I would like to. I found this one, but it is not a Coast Guard website.

The story mentions the Coast Guard’s role in the administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which goes well beyond fisheries. The Strategy was discussed here.