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.

“Japan To Build Six Patrol Vessels For Vietnam’s Coast Guard” –Naval News

Japan Coast Guard(JCG) PL42 Dewa. Photo credit: Wikipedia, No machine-readable author provided. Sizuru~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims).

Naval News reports that,

The Vietnamese government signed an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on July 28 to finance a project to build six patrol vessels for the Vietnamese Coast Guard (VCG). The vessels, based on the Aso-class of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) will be built in Japan.

There are some things that are noteworthy here.

  • Japan has started providing assistance to many of its neighbors and helping to strengthen their coast guards seems to be a favorite method. Helping the Philippines here and here. Malaysia here.
  • In this case it is in the form of a very low interest loan (0.1%) with generous repayment terms, to have ships constructed in Japan (good for the Japanese shipbuilding industry).
  • The speed of construction is also noteworthy, six ship with the last to be delivered Oct. 2025.
  • The cost of each of these 79.0 m (259 ft 2 in) cutters is about the same as that for our Webber class WPCs.

The ASO class has not been built since 2006, but they are smaller and presumably cheaper than the larger classes of Japanese Coast Guard large patrol vessels (PL) that followed. The class was built shortly after the Battle of Amami-Ōshima and apparently incorporated lessons from that engagement including a heavier weapon, the Bofors 40mm/70, and ballistic protection for selected areas of the ship. They are also relatively fast at over 30 knots.

“Watchful Eyes, Task Force Chief: Indo-Pacific Partners Collaborate to Disrupt Traffickers” –Indo-Pacific Forum

Rear Adm. Robert Hayes, director of Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) West since April 2019 leads U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s counterdrug activities

The Indo-Pacific Forum has an interview with Rear Adm. Robert Hayes, director of Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) West. He provides a look at the trans-Pacific drug problem including the interdiction of precursor chemicals and Fentanyl.

New Zealand Adds One of a Kind Ice Class Underway Replenishment Vessel

HMNZS Aotearoa Logistics Support Vessel

Naval News reports that the New Zealand Navy has commissioned what I believe is a one of a kind vessel, a Polar class underway replenishment vessel, HMNZS Aotearoa (not that it is an icebreaker, no icebreaking bow).

There is an excellent description of this ship here.

(Anyone know if the Polar Security cutters can do underway replenishment?)

Unlike US Navy replenishment ships, this will be armed and have a military crew.

I doubt the ice-strengthening and winterization really cost a whole lot. With the Arctic opening up, maybe the Navy should be thinking about something like this.

Two Articles on Coast Guard/Navy Cooperation/Coordination –CIMSEC and USNI

The Philippine Navy’s BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17), USS Germantown (LSD-42), USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752) and USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) break formation after steaming together this week in the Sulu Sea as part of Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama.

Two recently published articles suggest greater cooperation and coordination between the Navy and Coast Guard. Both were written by a Marine, Captain Walker D. Mills, USMC, an infantry officer currently serving as an exchange officer in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Proceedings article talks about ways the Coast Guard could contribute to a rules-based international order in the Western Pacific but points out that the Coast Guard is underfunded and points to this as a reason given for not assuming a greater role in the Western Pacific. I don’t think he is saying these arguments absolutely preclude a greater Coast Guard role in the Western Pacific, but he does present the argument.

The CIMSEC post, points out that the Chief of Naval Operations’ recent FRAGO (shortened form of fragmentary order. An abbreviated form of an operation order) directing increased coordination between the Navy and Marine Corps missed an opportunity to highlight the reality of continuing cooperation between the Navy and Coast Guard.

“Some observers have raised objections to including the Coast Guard in the U.S. response to Chinese belligerence and encroachment in the South China Sea – it has repeatedly been a focus of commentary without generating a consensus. Generally, these objections are based on the small size and meager funding that the Coast Guard has and how the Coast Guard would be unprepared if a shooting conflict broke out in the region. Both of these are reasons why the CNO needs to plan for and mention the inclusion of the Coast Guard in his guidance to the force and make them a part of the larger conversation. Ignoring the Coast Guard, minimizing their potential contribution, or leaving them out of the discussion entirely would only serve to exacerbate these two issues.”


Conclusion

The CNO dedicated part of his FRAGO to guidance on building “alliances and partnerships” internationally – but it is just as if not more important to build partnerships and interoperability between sister services and other U.S. agencies. The CNO’s FRAGO is a far cry from the level of Coast Guard inclusion that permeated the 2015 Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower. While CNO Gilday obviously does not have the statutory authorities to direct his FRAGO at the Coast Guard – he can make it clear to his sailors that he views the Coast Guard as playing a critical role in the Navy-Marine Corps-Coast Guard team. That would be moving toward a truly integrated national maritime architecture and force structure. This direction will be critical for preserving U.S. primacy at sea and enforcing rule of law in the global commons.