“Coast Guard cutters begin Operation Aiga in Oceania” –D14

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

Below is a D14 news release. These long distance/long duration operations pairing a buoy tender (WLB) and a Webber class WPC are getting to be fairly routine.

Buoy tenders are proving to be good PC tenders as well. This is a good demonstration of the multi-mission nature of Coast Guard buoy tenders and support for the contention that the buoy tender function should not be passed off to some other agency or outsourced.

Wonder if they might be able to support more than one patrol craft at a time?

(The photo in the news release below is of a different Juniper class WLB, USCGC Elm)

News Release

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

Coast Guard cutters begin Operation Aiga in Oceania

 

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

HONOLULU — The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) and Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) will aim to extend the Coast Guard’s at-sea enforcement presence in the region through a 40-day patrol.

“Aiga,” the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with Pacific Island Country (PIC) partners in order to protect shared national interests, combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and strengthen maritime governance in Oceania.

“Responsible fisheries management is vital to the Pacific’s well-being, prosperity, and security,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Conway, the 14th District’s current operations officer. “The Coast Guard is an adaptable, responsive military force of maritime professionals whose broad legal authorities, capable assets, and expansive partnerships provide a persistent presence throughout our exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and on the high seas.”

IUU fishing operates outside the rules adopted at the national and international level. It threatens the ocean’s ecosystem, food security, and economic growth around the world by undercutting law-abiding fishermen and communities that depend on fish and fish products.

“An essential protein source for more than 40% of the world’s population, fish stocks are critical to maritime sovereignty and resource security of many nations,” said Cmdr. Christopher Jasnoch, the Juniper’s commanding officer.

As part of Operation Blue Pacific 2022, the crews of the Juniper and Joseph Gerczak will conduct information sharing activities to advance the U.S.’s bilateral and cultural relationships with Melanesia and Polynesia.

The Coast Guard regularly exercises bilateral shiprider agreements with partner nations. These agreements help to host foreign law enforcement personnel to better exercise their authority; closing any global maritime law enforcement gaps, improve cooperation, coordination, and interoperability.

Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor seeking to promote maritime security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while also strengthening relationships with our partners in the region.

“To ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. remains committed to strengthening regional alliances and enhancing emerging partnerships,” said Lt. Joseph Blinsky, Joseph Gerczak’s commanding officer. “Leading global deterrence efforts, the Coast Guard likewise remains committed to combating IUU fishing and our crews look forward to collaborating with PICs to better address this growing national security concern.”

“On the front lines against China, the US Coast Guard is taking on missions the US Navy can’t do” –Business Insider

US Coast Guard cutter Munro transits the Taiwan Strait with US Navy destroyer USS Kidd in August. US Navy

Business Insider reports on the increasing demand signal for Coast Guard assets in the Western Pacific and the necessary balancing act that results. They sum it up this way.

  • The US military has turned more of its attention to the Pacific amid competition with China.
  • The Coast Guard has been key, conducting missions other services aren’t equipped or allowed to do.
  • But it already has worldwide commitments, and higher demand in the Pacific could tax its resources.

None of this should come as a surprise to regular readers here, but it is a nice overview and there are some beautiful photos.

Perhaps more importantly these realities are being brought to a general audience.

Thanks to Mike B. for bringing this to my attention.

“Coast Guard, Partners Complete Cooperative Pacific Surveillance Operation” –Seapower

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart participates in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru off American Samoa, Oct. 29, 2021.
Operation Kurukuru is an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart/Released)

Seapower magazine has a report on the recently completed, 12 day, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru in the Pacific, intended to counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

“The operation included 15 Guardian Class and Pacific Patrol Boats from Pacific nations operating alongside five Australian Navy, French Navy and United States Coast Guard vessels,” said Allan Rahari, the FFA Director Fisheries Operations. “Seven aircraft from the FFA, quadrilateral and regional partners provided air surveillance, as well as satellite surveillance and use of other emerging technologies.”

US Coast Guard participants include two Webber class WPCs, USCGC William Hart, operating out Hawaii, and  USCGC Myrtle Hazard, operating out of Guam, and a CGAS Barbers Point C-130.

The Pacific class patrol boats and their Guardian class replacements were donated by Australia help Pacific Island nations police their Exclusive Economic Zones.

Panorama of three Guardian class patrol boats at Austal shipyards in Henderson, Western Australia. The ships are, from left to right, the Teanoai II (301)‎, the PSS Remeliik II‎ and the VOEA Ngahau Siliva (P302). Photo by Calistemon via Wikipedia.

“The Pacific Islands Forum‘s Forum Fisheries Agency maintains a Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.”

“Coast Guard cutter crews conclude Operation Aiga in Oceania” –News Release

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

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

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

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

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

united states coast guard

News Release

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

Coast Guard cutter crews conclude Operation Aiga in Oceania

Oliver Berry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For breaking news follow us on twitter @USCGHawaiiPac

The Samoas

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) Sept. 22, 2017. The Oliver Berry was the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters to be stationed in Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Below is a 14th District news release, reporting an unusual deployment of a Webber class WPC to aid Samoa in monitoring their Exclusive Economic Zone. The crew must have crossed both the International Date Line and the Equator, so they have some serious bragging rights. This is not Oliver Berry’s first very long deployment (and here), nor the first time a Hawaii based FRC has visited these waters. There is no indication that Oliver Berry was escorted by a larger cutter.

Samoa is a long way from Oliver Berry’s homeport of Hawaii, but it is pretty close to American Samoa.

Samoa Islands. From US National Park Service circa 2002. (Note these are statute miles.)

There have been suggestions that American Samoa needs more Coast Guard presence. American Samoa’s EEZ is 156,136 square miles, larger than the state of Montana, and 3.56% of the entire US EEZ.

Generally speaking, American Samoa has been out of sight and out of mind for most Americans and the people there seem to have been neglected. American Samoa is the only inhabited unorganized unincorporated territory of the United States. Despite the fact that American Samoans serve in the American Armed Forces at higher rates than any other US state or territory, American Samoans are United States Nationals, but not citizens. 2021 population is estimated to be 46,366.

The neighboring Independent State of Samoa has a larger population, 202,506 according to their 2020 census.

The waters around the islands of the two Samoas provides a rich harvest of Tuna. If the islands are to remain economically viable, we need to prevent Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported fishing in the area. To do that, we need a good cooperative relationship with the Independent State of Samoa and Coast Guard assets closer than Hawaii. The area is also subject to earthquakes so there is the potential need for disaster response.

What kind of assets? Two or three FRCs would probably work well. Ideally three as that  would generally allow one vessel on patrol, one on standby, and the third in maintenance. Some Coast Guard Auxiliary air assets would also help a lot.


united states coast guard

News Release

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

U.S. Coast Guard patrols international waters in an effort to strengthen maritime governance and foreign partnerships

 

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

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry crew conducted patrol operations in Samoa’s exclusive economic zone in September 2021, deepening our close partnership with Samoa and promoting resource security within the area.

The Oliver Berry’s crew helped to fill the policing gap for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing while Samoa’s Nafanua II patrol boat was out of service.

“The United States offered to assist the Government of Samoa by providing security and sovereignty operations in Samoan waters due to the absence of their patrol boat,” said Cmdr. Jeff Bryant, the 14th District’s chief of enforcement. “It was a pleasure to support Samoa in enforcing their laws to protect fisheries and other natural resources within their EEZ.”

The U.S. and its allies are trusted partners in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard employs 11 bilateral shiprider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations, including Samoa, to help them ensure their resource security and maritime sovereignty.  Pursuant to those agreements, host government officials generally join Coast Guard patrols.  Due to COVID-19 protocols, in this instance the Oliver Berry did not make any shore visits or host Samoan government officials aboard.

“The Oliver Berry’s patrol operations highlighted the close U.S.-Samoa partnership and our shared commitment to ensuring security and freedom of navigation in the Pacific,” said Acting Chargé d’Affaires Mark Hitchcock. “We look forward to working with the Samoan Government and Coast Guard to facilitate additional patrols in the near future.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Government of Samoa have a history of partnership.  In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutters Walnut and Joseph Gerczak visited Apia Harbor and conducted patrol operations with officials from Samoa’s Ministry of Police and Ministry of Fisheries aboard. Crew from the Coast Guard Cutters also visited Lufilufi Primary School on Upolu Island to donate books, stationary, and sports gear and met with the Samoa Victim Support Group, a non-profit organization that specializes in providing shelter for domestic abuse victims, to donate children’s clothes, baby bottles, toddler blankets and reading materials.

The goal of the Coast Guard remains supportive and responsive to our international partners as they seek to improve the daily lives of their people and contribute to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Oceania covers an area of 3.3 million square miles and has a population of 40 million people; it is a melting pot of culture and diversity and each of those cultures has a dependency on living marine resources and maritime commerce to allow their people to thrive.

“U.S. Coast Guard Continues to Expand Presence in the Western Pacific” –USNI


August 26, JS OUMI conducted joint training with USCGC Munro in the East China Sea.

The US Naval Institute’s News Service reports on recent Coast Guard activity in the Western Pacific, apparently based primarily on a conversation with Vice Admiral Michael McAllister, Commander Pacific Area and Commander, Coast Guard Defense Force West.

They talk primarily about USCGC Munro’s operations with Japanese and Philippine forces. These included first time underway logistics support provided by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, but there was more. They also discussed cooperation with the China Coast, but the Pacific Area Commander made one particular statement that may portend a new base in the Western Pacific,

“McAllister also provided an update on Coast Guard operations in the Pacific Islands since the July commissioning in Guam of Coast Guard Fast Response Cutters Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139), Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) and Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143), and the re-designation of Coast Guard Sector Guam to Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam.” (emphasis applied–Chuck)

There would not seem to be a reason to apply the designation “Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam” unless there were Coast Guard forces in Micronesia somewhere beside Guam. Right now there are none that I am aware of.

I hope to publish something soon to discuss there those forces might be based.

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

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

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

News Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“EVOLUTION OF THE FLEET: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CHINESE FISHING VESSELS OFF THE GALAPAGOS” –CIMSEC

Chinese fishing vessel fleet (Photo: The Maritime Executive)

Somehow I missed this post when it was published, 19 Oct. 2020, but it was recently recognized as one of CIMSEC’s the top ten posts for 2020.

This only looks at fishing off the Galapagos, but pretty sure this is happen elsewhere as well. The post reports the Chinese government is paying massive subsidizes and suggests that it seems to be attempting to establish a sort of lien on the world’s fisheries stocks, e. g. “we have historically taken the majority of the high sea’s catch so we should be allowed to continue to do so in perpetuity.”

It also looks at indicators of Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

USCGC Oliver Henry, WPC-1140, Exercises with the Navy in the Philippine Sea

Some photos from Twitter,

“The crew of USCG Cutter Oliver Henry participated in an integrated exercise alongside Navy Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron TWO in the Philippine Sea last month under the direction of U.S. 7th Fleet.”

The Navy vessel is apparently a MkVI patrol boat.

USCGC Oliver Henry is the second FRC to be homeported in Guam, so the Philippine Sea is practically just out the front door.

The location of the Philippine Sea. (Section of a world map from the CIA World Factbook)

Thanks to Walter for bring this to my attention. 

“MQ-9B SeaGuardian Maritime UAV: Which Missions ? Which Customers ?” –Naval News

MQ-9B Seaguardian during the maritime capabilities demonstration flight over Southern California waters in September 2020. GA-ASI picture.

NavalNews reports on the Maritime version of the Predator UAV, the MQ-9B Seaguardian, including its sensors and market success.

In addition to different sensors, this model is different from the MQ-9s that the Coast Guard has flown with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in that they are intended to operate in civilian airspace. CBP has been operating MQ-9 UAVs for 15 years.

Congress seems not only willing to support Coast Guard operation of land based medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs like the Seaguardian. They are actually pushing the Coast Guard. They can not seem to understand why we have not done it already.

In addition to the possibilities of use in the drug transit zones, these long range, long endurance aircraft could be especially useful in detecting IUU activity in the Western Pacific where there normally are no Coast Guard air assets.