A New Kind of Shiprider Agreement–Virtual / “U.S., Federated States of Micronesia sign expanded shiprider agreement”

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam Commander Capt. Nicholas R. Simmons and the Honorable Joses R. Gallen, Secretary of Justice, Federated States of Micronesia, signed an expanded shiprider agreement allowing remote coordination of authorities, the first of its kind aboard the USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) in Guam, on Oct. 13, 2022. The agreement will enable to U.S to act on behalf of the FSM to combat illicit maritime activity and to strengthen international security operations. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir)

This is a lot more of a leap than it might seem from the news release. It is a huge vote of confidence from the Federated States of Micronesia.

More specifically, the agreement provides a coordinating mechanism and process for U.S. law enforcement personnel to work with the FSM National Police through command centers to receive approval from the FSM to act.

In all previous shiprider agreements, the Coast Guard team enforced the laws of the assisted nation under the authority of an agent of that nation, that accompanied the ship. What we have here is a virtual shiprider (my choice of words). Not only is it easier logistically, it means the decision by the nation assisted is probably being made at a higher level than would have been the case with a dedicated on-scene shiprider.

It also means that a cutter can begin acting on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia as soon as the cutter enters their EEZ, rather than having to wait until the shiprider comes aboard. The cutter will also not have to drop the shiprider off before departing the area, or arrange other transportation that might delay the agent’s return to duty. It is a win-win.

 

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S., Federated States of Micronesia sign expanded shiprider agreement

U.S., Federated States of Micronesia sign expanded shiprider agreement U.S., Federated States of Micronesia sign expanded shiprider agreement
U.S., Federated States of Micronesia sign expanded shiprider agreement U.S., Federated States of Micronesia sign expanded shiprider agreement

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

SANTA RITA, Guam — To overcome complex challenges to maritime enforcement in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a nation with over six hundred islands, representatives of the United States and the FSM signed a remote shiprider agreement on Oct. 13, 2022, during a Joint Committee Meeting hosted by Joint Region Marianas.

Through remote coordination, this agreement, the first of its kind, will enable the U.S. to act on behalf of the country to combat illicit maritime activity when an FSM law enforcement officer is not present. More specifically, the agreement provides a coordinating mechanism and process for U.S. law enforcement personnel to work with the FSM National Police through command centers to receive approval from the FSM to act.

Shiprider agreements allow maritime law enforcement officers to observe, board, and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within a designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas. These law enforcement activities bolster maritime law enforcement operations and maritime domain awareness and provide a mechanism to conduct integrated operations within the Pacific.

“We’re thrilled to cooperate with our Federated States of Micronesia partners on this initiative that will reap benefits for FSM’s economic, environmental, and national security in the maritime domain,” said Alissa Bibb, Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia.

The dynamic nature of detecting, deterring, and suppressing illegal activity in the Pacific, like fisheries offenses and illicit maritime drug trafficking, requires creative and collaborative solutions. This agreement builds on the enduring partnership and long-standing shiprider agreement between the two nations by providing a new framework to conduct maritime operations and relies on the professionalism and expertise of U.S. and FSM maritime law enforcement officers.

The U.S. Coast Guard regularly exercises 13 bilateral fisheries law enforcement agreements with countries throughout the Pacific islands. These agreements enable U.S. Coast Guard personnel and U. S. Navy vessels with embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel to work with host nations to protect critical regional resources. Shiprider efforts greatly enhance host-nation sovereignty by enabling Pacific Island Nation partners to enforce their laws and regulations using U.S. assets.

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 EEZs, with waters rich in sea life. FSM consists of four states — Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae — each with a mix of unique peoples, languages, and cultures. 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.

“This historic agreement significantly strengthens presence and enforcement options to counter illicit maritime activity in the region. It is only made possible by the deep and abiding relationships and respect between the Coast Guard and our FSM partners, “Capt. Nick Simmons, Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia. “FSM has the 14th largest EEZ in the world and only two patrol boats. Our crews spend ample time within the region but getting a shiprider aboard our vessels can be a real logistical challenge. This agreement dramatically increases the capacity of available resources to act on FSM’s behalf to protect their living marine resources and sovereignty. We appreciate their continued trust and confidence as we work together.”

The USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) hosted Chargé d’affaires Bibb and her team aboard in Pohnpei in September. They met with several key officials, and members of the cutter’s engineering team conducted a subject matter exchange with the crew of FSS Palikir, the last active Pacific-class patrol boat, on shipboard repairs and assisting with preventative maintenance.

In May, USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) made a contactless crew rest and re-fueling stop in FSM 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. U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam also provides search and rescue support to FSM, with several successful cases in the last year, resulting in ten lives saved.

The shiprider program supports regional coordination and aligns with the National Security Strategy, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command efforts, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Operation Blue Pacific. The bilateral agreements enacted in the Pacific are the bedrock of regional maritime law enforcement partnership. They convey the United States’ ongoing investment in protecting shared resources and interest in maritime safety and security, including fair and reciprocal trade, while standing against a current of aggressive and coercive influence in the region.

The U.S. is devoted to ensuring greater unity and a free and open Indo-Pacific for all nations who observe the rule of law. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to demonstrate our enduring presence in the Pacific and help facilitate increased regional stability, security, and resilience for U.S. partners.

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.

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.

“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.”

“U.S. Coast Guard arrives for planned port visit in Cairns, Australia” –Adventures in Paradise with the Webber Class

The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrive in Cairns for engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners and local representatives, Aug. 31, 2022. 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 courtesy USCGC Oliver Henry)

The six Hawaii and Guam based Webber class Fast Response Cutters do seem to get around. USCGC Oliver Henry made it to North Eastern Australia, mooring at Her Majesty’s Australian Station Cairns, which is home to some Australian Navy patrol, hydrographic, and survey vessels. Cairns looks like a delightful little city (population in June 2019 was 153,951). Not bad after no one tossed out the welcome mat in the Solomon Islands. The crew is going to have a lot of sea stories.

Cairns is a bit over 1800 nautical miles South of Oliver Henry’s homeport in Guam.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard arrives for planned port visit in Cairns, Australia

The Oliver Henry is the first U.S. Coast Guard fast response cutter ever to fly the Australian ensign.  The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) command stand for a photo with Cmdr. Alfonso Santos, commander of HMAS Cairns, and Capt. Toby Reid, U.S. Coast Guard representative to the defense attache office of the U.S. Embassy in Australia,
USCGC Oliver Henry meets with Cairns regional Council and mayor The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrive in Cairns for engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners and local representatives, Aug. 31, 2022

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

CAIRNS, Australia — The Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) crew arrived in Cairns for engagements with Australian Defence and Home Affairs partners and local representatives, Aug. 31.

“A cutter arrival to Australia is another first, not only for U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia but also our fast response cutter fleet and is a reminder of our Service’s commitment to our partners and our enduring presence in the region,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “The ship driver in me was envious when Lt. Hofschneider reported ‘OH transiting southbound along Inner Great Barrier Reef Passage enroute to Cairns. No issues or concerns.’ Not the kind of thing many Coast Guard members have ever written or said.”

Before arrival in port, Oliver Henry’s crew operated at sea with aerial support from the Australian Border Forces in the Torres Strait. While in port, the two nations will continue to build on the relationship forged at sea. Upon arrival, the crew was greeted by representatives from the Royal Australian Navy HMAS Cairns and the U.S. embassy. They were also guests of the Cairns Regional Council.

“It is an honor for Oliver Henry and her crew to visit and host our Australian friends,” said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider, the Oliver Henry commanding officer. “The U.S. and Australia have been standing side-by-side for more than 100 years. This is more than a partnership, it is mateship. The U.S. Coast Guard looks forward to more opportunities where we can work with the Australian Border Force, Royal Australian Navy, and other Australian partners to advance the rule of law at sea.”

During their stop in Cairns, members of Oliver Henry anticipate engagements with local officials and the community while also experiencing local culture.

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.

The 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, 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.

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.

“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. 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.

“Can France’s Military Live Up to Its Ambitions in the Indo-Pacific?” –The Diplomat

French EEZ, from Wikipedia, by B1mbo

The Diplomat notes,

France has sovereignty, citizens, and broader interests at stake in the region, but its military presence remains small and outdated.

Most of the French military’s missions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans look a lot like Coast Guard missions.

Like the US they have vast holdings of EEZ in the Pacific that have been lightly patrolled and are now subject to the effects of Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing. These include territory both East and West of American Samoa.

I would note that during World War II, New Caledonia was a very important logistical hub in the Pacific War. France does not have a lot of military assets in the Pacific, but they do have several strategically placed islands with port facilities and airports.

It looks like there are opportunities here for cooperation and mutual support between the US Coast Guard and French forces.


Previous reports with news effecting French forces in the IndoPacific:

European Patrol Corvette / “Spain seen joining Greece, France, Italy on European Patrol Corvette program” –DefenseNews

“France confirms order for six new POM Offshore Patrol Vessels” –Naval News, Another Cutter X

French Building OPVs D’Entrecasteaux-class patrol ship

Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative

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

How did I learn about this Declaration?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Dates:

15 October 2018:

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

10 December 2020:

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

 21 May 2021:

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

 4 October 2021:

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

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


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


THE DECLARATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIMPAC 2022

Navy ships assemble to form a multinational fleet for a photo exercise off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise on July 26, 2018. Twenty-six nations, more than 45 ships and submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC. (MC3 Dylan Kinee/U.S. Navy)

Defense News reports,

 The U.S. Navy and 26 partners and allies have concluded a final planning conference for this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest international maritime exercise.

I have not seen dates for the exercise, but presumably July. Certainly there should be at least one NSC, an FRC, and probably one or more CG special teams in the exercise. We may see former USCG 378s from the Philippines and Vietnam.

Apparently for the first time, Taiwan is expected to participate.

Though subject to change, the plan includes 41 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and nearly 25,000 personnel from 27 countries.

There is a good chance a Coast Guard commander will head one of the task groups for a humanitarian assistance or maritime interdiction exercise.

In the 2020 RIMPAC a NSC USCGC Munro hosted a Navy MH-60S detachment.

There will almost certainly be one or two SINKEX to remind us how much ordinance it can take to sink a ship. Hopefully an NSC will be involved. Would love to see them get a chance to use the new ALaMO rounds, just don’t expect them to sink the target.