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.
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.