“US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation” –PAC AREA News Release/” Royal Navy and US Coast Guard to Forge Closer Bonds”

Ships from the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard conducted exercises near the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Feb. 21, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, two of the respective services’ newest and most capable vessels, operated alongside helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball/Released)

The Coast Guard has been busy increasing its international visibility. Below is a news release concerning increased cooperation with the Japanese Coast Guard that came out yesterday. Today, I see a SeaWaves report, also dated yesterday that,

“The Royal Navy and US Coast Guard have vowed to work more closely to fight crime and protect the planet. The two services already combine to stop drugs traffickers in the Caribbean and Middle East, assist each other with operations in the polar regions, run exchange programs for sailors and frequently work and train side-by-side around the globe.”

The new relationship with the Royal Navy includes expanded personnel postings that began back in 2014.

There are also plans to build on already successful exchange programs, which allows USCG engineers to work with the Royal Navy but will soon also allow pilots and aircrew to do the same. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

Perhaps we are not too far from exercising something like my proposed “Combined Maritime Security Task Force Pacific” with a US Coast Guard Cutter, a Japanese Coast Guard Cutter, and a Royal Navy River Class OPV working with navies and coast guards of SE Asia to protect their EEZ. Perhaps the Indian Coast Guard will join as well.

News Release

May 19, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

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

TOKYO — The United States and Japan coast guards formally expanded cooperative agreements and established a new perpetual operation during a ceremony Wednesday in Tokyo.

Vice Adm. Michael McAllister, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, and Vice Adm. Yoshio Seguchi, Japan Coast Guard vice commandant for operations, represented their respective services during the historic document signing ceremony and celebration at Japan Coast Guard Headquarters.

Although a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services has existed since 2010, strengthened relationships, increasing bilateral engagements and continued focus on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific necessitated expansion of the memorandum.

The new operation’s name, SAPPHIRE, is an acronym for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule of law based Engagement, and it honors the gem regarded as an emblem of integrity and affection found throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Operation Sapphire encompasses all the annual interactions between the Japan and U.S. coast guards, with the goal of increasing interactions over time.

To formalize the expanded cooperation, annexes were added to the existing memorandum of cooperation outlining Operation Sapphire to include standard operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing.

“We rely on our partners, allies, and like-minded nations to achieve our shared missions,” said McAllister. “As evidenced by this agreement, our relationship with the Japan Coast Guard is stronger than ever, and I am looking forward to many more decades of partnership and collaborative operations in the Indo-Pacific.”

“We will conduct smooth cooperation in the fields of joint operation, capacity building and information sharing by this agreement” said Seguchi. “Sapphire embodies the rule-of-law based engagement between the coast guards, and we will expand the principle of Free and Open Indo-Pacific to other nations.”

 

“Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returns to Alameda following 97-day South Pacific patrol” –News Release

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) participates in a exercise with the Australian maritime surveillance aircraft in the South Pacific Ocean, Feb. 23, 2022. The Stratton is currently underway conducting exercises and operations with partner nations in the South Pacific region. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sarah Stegall)

Just a news release, but it is about one of those increasingly common long deployments to the Western Pacific. Notable are the use of the small unmanned air system, presumably Scan Eagle, shiprider program with Fiji, and laying the ground work for a shiprider program with Papua New Guinea.

220130-N-CD319-1014 SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 30, 2022) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) participates in Divisional Tactics (DIVTAC) formations with U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) and British Royal Navy ship HMS Spey (P 234). Sampson is positioned to conduct lifesaving actions in support of disaster relief efforts in Tonga. The ship is operating in support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Australian Government response is coordinating closely with France and New Zealand under the FRANZ partnership, alongside Fiji, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States to assist Tonga in its time of need. Sampson is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with alliances and partnerships while serving as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tristan Cookson)

News Release

March 21, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returns to Alameda following 97-day South Pacific patrol

Photo of CGC Stratton Photo of CGC Stratton Photo of boarding
Photo of boarding Photo of Fiji press event Photo of boarding

Editors’ Note: Click on images above to download high resolution versions. Additional photos are available here.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) returned to Alameda Saturday after completing an Operation Blue Pacific Patrol in the south Pacific.

While underway, Stratton’s crew worked with Pacific partner nations, including Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the United Kingdom on an array of missions and prioritized combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing on the high seas or in partner nations’ exclusive economic zones.

In the effort to combat IUU fishing, Stratton teams boarded 11 vessels during the 20,348-mile patrol and found 21 violations.

“Our collaboration with our partners and utilization of our shiprider agreements gave us the ability to accomplish our mission of combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in order to maintain regional stability and protect the fishing industry,” said Capt. Steve Adler, Stratton’s commanding officer. “By bringing aboard shipriders from Fiji, we were able to patrol their exclusive economic zones to better assist them in enforcing their maritime laws.”

In February, Stratton embarked three shipriders from Fiji with representatives from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Services, the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries, and the Republic of Fiji Navy, who led bilateral enforcement efforts for Stratton to patrol their exclusive economic zones.

There is a shared interest for both Fiji and the United States, as well as other partner nations, to protect fisheries as they provide a renewable source of food and income to the Pacific nations.

The Stratton crew also used small Unmanned Aircraft Systems to increase the ship’s capabilities and further extend the cutter’s patrol area.

“Stratton’s capacity for employing cutting edge technology like sUAS, gives the Coast Guard the upper hand in the fight against IUU fishing,” said Cmdr. Charter Tschirgi, Stratton’s executive officer. “The vast area covered during patrols like these displays the reach the Coast Guard has and the length we will go to assist our partners in the Pacific.”

Stratton visited multiple countries while deployed, including Tahiti, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. While in Suva, Fiji, Stratton hosted a joint media engagement with the Fijian Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Defense, Manasa Lasuma, and the Fijian Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yogesh Karan. While anchored in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Stratton also hosted an engagement and law enforcement demonstration in conjunction with U.S. Ambassador Erin McKee and representatives of Papua New Guinea: Chief Inspector Christopher Smith, Terry Udu, Moses Teng, Hiribuma Dabuma, MAJ Norbeth Fehi, and Ivan Salonica. This discussion and demonstration of law enforcement operations and regional partnerships helped facilitate a future signing of a bilateral shiprider agreement between Papua New Guinea and the United States.

“Communicating with our allies face-to-face is extremely valuable,” said Ensign Alexander Mastel, Stratton’s public affairs officer. “With IUU fishing replacing piracy as the leading global maritime security threat, it is more important than ever to join efforts in ensuring economic security in the Pacific.”

While on patrol, Stratton’s crew also participated in multiple joint exercises with partners in the region. These included a formation sailing with the HMS Spey, a tactical maneuvering drill with HMS Spey and USS Sampson, a joint patrol with an Australian Border Force patrol aircraft, fueling-at-sea with New Zealand’s newest replenishment vessel HMNZS Aotearoa, and joint steaming with the French Naval vessel FMS Arago and Fijian Patrol vessel Savenaca.

“Partnerships across the Pacific are the key to success in combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. I am extremely proud of the crew for demonstrating tremendous success in partnering and operating with our regional partners and allies across Oceania, including navies and law enforcement officials from French Polynesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom,” said Adler. “Only by building these continued relationships and joint operations with patrols like Stratton’s Operation Blue Pacific will we be able to truly make a difference and impact against the global problem of IUU fishing. By training with our partners, we further our interoperability and cooperation, ultimately advancing a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific.”

“Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Fiji during Operation Blue Pacific patrol” –D14 News Release

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton passes underneath San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, June 12, 2019. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Below is a D14 news release regarding a type of operation we now see more frequently. Stratton has been away from home for 50 days and is still heading West. At least the crew is getting to see some exotic places. Hopefully COVID restrictions are not keeping the from going ashore.

The ships mentioned in the release, that Stratton has been working with are of interest. HMNZS Aotearoa is an ice capable underway replenishment ship. HMS Spey is a Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel, one of two sent into Pacific and Indian Oceans.

 

News Release

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

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visits Fiji during Operation Blue Pacific patrol

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

SUVA, Fiji — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton visited Fiji in February after being underway for 50-days in the Pacific combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

During the visit, Capt. Stephen Adler, the Stratton’s commanding officer, met with members of the Fijian media to discuss the Coast Guard’s partnership with Fiji and their combined effort to protect fisheries resources.

“Our relationships with our partner nations are more important than ever in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” said Adler. “We are pleased to work with our Fijian partners to maintain maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region.”

While in the country, the Stratton’s crew welcomed aboard three Fijian ship riders who, with the assistance of Stratton’s law enforcement boarding teams, will ensure compliance with applicable Fijian fishing laws within Fiji’s exclusive economic zone.

The Coast Guard’s mission to combat IUU fishing is essential in protecting maritime governance and a rules-based international order to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Bilateral shiprider agreements are a force multiplier for both Fiji and the Coast Guard because they allow Fijian law enforcement personnel to observe, protect, board, and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Fijian waters with the support of Coast Guard personnel and vessels.

Speaking recently during a visit to Fiji, Secretary Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, stated “On security, just this week three shipriders from Fiji are joining the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton to conduct patrols in support of maritime sovereignty and security. The United States is proud that several of Fiji’s future leaders are being trained in our military academies.”

The fisheries industry is a significant source of food and income throughout the Pacific. Protecting this renewable resource is a priority for the United States and Pacific Island Countries as IUU fishing in the Pacific has global impacts and effects.

Recently IUU fishing has replaced piracy as the leading global maritime security threat and has the potential to have a global effect if unchecked.

Prior to visiting Fiji, the Stratton’s crew had been working with British, Australian, New Zealand, and French allied naval forces as well as the U.S. Navy in support of the Tongan government following the volcanic eruption on Jan 15th.

The crew also conducted a number of drills and exercises with allied partners including helicopter operations with the Armed Forces in French Polynesia, fueling at sea with the Royal New Zealand Navy Ship Aotearoa, and multiple maneuvering exercises with the Royal Navy HMS Spey.

The Stratton’s crew plans to visit Papua New Guinea as representatives of the Coast Guard and United States. Both the United States and Papua New Guinea are interested in signing a bilateral agreement to codify the two states’ strategic partnership in the Pacific and enable the Coast Guard to better assist Papua New Guinea in protecting the island nation’s sovereignty over its EEZ against IUU fishing.

The Stratton is a 418-foot national security cutter capable of extended, worldwide deployment in support of homeland security and defense missions. NSCs routinely conduct operations throughout the Pacific and Atlantic oceans; their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct vital strategic missions.

Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor, promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships between partner nations in the Pacific.

Royal Navy Deploys Two OPVs for Five Years to No Base in Particular

We have deployed cutters to the Western Pacific for months at a time, and PATFORSWA kept its 110s operating out of Bahrain for years, but the Royal Navy seems to be doing something different and I believe remarkable.

Naval News reports they are sending a pair of River Batch II class ships, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, well beyond the Suez. It sounds all very 18th Century Star Trek, “Our Five Year Mission, Proceed into the Indian and Pacific Oceans and act in the Queen’s Interests.” (No, not a real quote.)

If these ships were in the US Coast Guard we would see them as MECs. They are slightly larger and faster than the 270s, but are not as well equipped in some respects. They are armed only with a 30mm gun and no helicopter hangar. I don’t believe they have any ESM/ECM. Their crew is also considerably smaller, smaller in fact than that of a 210. (I have seen various numbers for the crew size, 34 in the infographic above, 58 in Wikipedia, 46 as reported below, but all well below the 75 common on a 210 or the 100 typical of a 270.)

“Each ship is crewed by 46 sailors, with half the crew trading places with shipmates from the UK every few weeks.”

The Royal Navy actually has considerable experience keeping OPVs deployed for long periods with austere support.

We might even see one of these helping with drug interdiction in the Eastern Pacific, more likely they will be countering piracy and drug or arms trafficing in the Indian Ocean or capacity building in East Africa or SE Asia. Maybe we could make a multi-national Freedom of Navigation transit of the Taiwan Strait.