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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coast Guard, Navy partner in Oceania Maritime Security Initiative

Lt. Joseph Anthony, U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment officer-in-charge, right, watches Republic of Nauru police officer Falzon Laan climb down the accommodation ladder of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) to embark its rigid-hull inflatable boat to conduct a boarding of a fishing vessel within Nauru's economic exclusive zone in support of the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative. HONOLULU—The Coast Guard and Navy completed a joint mission in the Central and South Pacific under a new agreement between the services to enforce fisheries laws and enhance regional security Jan. 7 to Feb. 2.

The partnership supports the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative, a Secretary of Defense program, which leverages Department of Defense assets transiting the region to increase the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting its maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.

As part of Operation Persistent Presence and in conjunction with NOAA, a Coast Guard law enforcement team embarked the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Kidd in San Diego to conduct law enforcement boardings while the vessel was in transit.

The Coast Guard-Navy team, including the two embarked MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78, conducted 46 external visual inspections and 13 boardings with internal inspections of fishing vessels across two separate jurisdictional areas in the Marshall Islands and Nauru exclusive economic zones.

The boarding inspection resulted in several documented violations and, more importantly, demonstrated U.S. commitment to regulating these fishing areas in conjunction with our partners in the region.

"The superb coordination of the USS Kidd, along with a detachment of Coast Guard personnel provided a unique capability to detect, identify and ultimately board U.S. and foreign fishing vessels in remote Pacific regions," said Cmdr. Richard Howes, Fourteenth Coast Guard District enforcement branch chief. "The Coast Guard, working alongside NOAA and DOD partners, is committed to combating transnational threats throughout Oceania."

"OMSI is aimed to diminish transnational illegal activity and enhance regional security and interoperability," said Cmdr. Gabe Varela, Kidd’s commanding officer. "By combining forces with the Coast Guard we were able to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity."

"This mission really strengthened our coordination and relationship with the Coast Guard," said Lt. Doug Robb, Kidd’s operations officer. "With their law enforcement detachment embarked, we were able to leverage our respective strengths to safely and efficiently conduct these important boardings."

The Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling the waters around the numerous islands associated with the United States throughout the region. Each of these islands have territorial waters stretching out to 12 miles from shore. Beyond that, stretching out to 200 nautical miles is an exclusive economic zone, an area defined by international law that allows each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of marine resources. Oceania contains 43 percent, or approximately 1.3 million square miles, of United States’ EEZs. (U.S. Coast Guard)

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