SANTA RITA, Guam—Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a request from the Republic of Palau to assist with locating the Chinese-flagged research vessel Da Yang Hao and observe its activity.
The 4,600-ton vessel entered Palau’s exclusive economic zone on Nov. 29. On Nov. 30, Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu received a notification from the Palau Division of Maritime Security that the Da Yang Hao was observed north of Kayangel State within Palau’s EEZ without proper authorization.
The government of Palau requested assistance from the Coast Guard pursuant to the U.S.-Palau bilateral law enforcement agreement. JRCC Honolulu deployed a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircraft to locate the research vessel and confirm the vessel was not in distress given its varying course and minimal speed while operating in the Palauan EEZ.
“The Coast Guard is a critical component of stability and governance in the Indo-Pacific,” said Capt. Nicholas Simmons, commander of Coast Guard Forces Micronesia | Sector Guam. “The Service is an enduring presence in Oceania, and is proud to support partner nations by assisting them to patrol their waters, enforce their laws, and protect natural resources within their EEZs.”
The Coast Guard maintains 11 bilateral law enforcement agreements with Pacific Island Countries and Territories throughout Oceania, allowing partner nations to work toward common goals such as preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene and located the research vessel approximately 100 nautical miles west northwest of the main Palauan island of Babeldaob transiting at slow speeds eastbound.
The Da Yang Hao communicated to the Hercules aircrew via radio that they were conducting storm avoidance. A subsequent overflight the following day relocated the research vessel transiting slowly north approximately 190 nautical miles northwest of the islands, approaching the limits of Palau’s EEZ.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is Oceania’s Coast Guard, remaining steadfast in saving lives and championing maritime governance throughout our area of responsibility, which includes Palau. We remain committed to collaborating and strengthening our long standing partnerships in the region given the Coast Guard’s unique authorities, missions, relationships and access,” said Capt. Craig O’Brien, Chief of Response, Coast Guard 14thDistrict. (USCG)