USCG delivers 4,500 lbs of supplies to FSM atolls
SANTA RITA, Guam—The crew of USCGC Oliver Henry returned to Guam on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, following a weeklong deployment to the Federated States of Micronesia countering illegal fishing and strengthening partnerships with the local island communities of several Yap outer island atolls, part of the ongoing Operation Rematau.
During the patrol, the crew supported FSM partners, completing four port calls and four community relations events. They also provided underway training opportunities for eight members assigned to temporary duty on the ship. They enhanced the ongoing U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy partnership, embarking two medical personnel from U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.
Partnering with the Ayuda Foundation, the Oliver Henry crew onloaded more than 4,500 lbs of supplies generously donated by local businesses and community members in Guam for future transport to remote islands in Ulithi and Woleai atolls. Donated supplies included educational material, clothing, kitchenware, fishing gear, toys, shelf-stable meals, interior paint, marine-grade orange paint, marine fiberglass repair kits, and water pumps. Water pumps were specifically requested to divert standing water from the airfield on Falalop Island, Woleai, to nearby taro fields to facilitate uninterrupted flight services from mainland Yap.
Oliver Henry‘s first stop was Ulithi Atoll, the second time a fast response cutter visited the atoll. Ulithi was a central U.S. staging area during World War II, and home to a U.S. Coast Guard Loran-C communications station from 1944 to 1965 before operations relocated to Yap and ultimately shuttered in 1987. During the visit, the Oliver Henry crew met with community members on the islands of Mogmog and Falalop and participated in a friendly basketball game with Outer Islands High School students in Falalop, Ulithi.
Their second stop was Woleai Atoll, which marked the first-ever visit by a fast response cutter to this remote atoll. Ten five-gallon buckets of orange paint were delivered to Woleai and will be further distributed to the outer islands for use on skiffs and small vessels. The Orange Paint Initiative seeks to improve the visibility of small vessels by making their hulls more visible, which is vital to responders in search and rescue instances. In addition to offloading donated supplies and meeting with community members, the Oliver Henry crew also rendered assistance by troubleshooting issues with a solar power supply unit and marine radio communications equipment. Further, the Oliver Henry crew also deployed an aerial drone to capture imagery of infrastructure on the principal island of Falalop, Woleai.
“Nothing is more heartwarming for the crew than to experience what we just completed during our visits to Ulithi and Woleai. It was evident the island communities reciprocated these feelings,” said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider, commanding officer of Oliver Henry. “They welcomed us with smiles, flower leis, and open arms, and we truly enjoyed their hospitality. Transporting supplies to these remote atolls is nothing new for the Coast Guard, and we are honored to join in on the tradition spanning several decades for Guam-based Coast Guard cutter crews. We thank the Ayuda Foundation for spearheading donation collection efforts and look forward to continued opportunities to strengthen relationships with our brothers and sisters across Micronesia in a manner that supports their way of life.”
The Oliver Henry is the 40th 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutter named for Oliver T. Henry, Jr., an enlisted African American Coast Guard member first to break the color barrier of a then-segregated Service. During World War II, Henry served under Lt. Cmdr. Carlton Skinner. The latter became the first civilian governor of Guam and played a critical role in developing the Organic Act in 1950. Henry blazed a trail for minorities in the U.S. military as he climbed from enlisted ranks while serving on 10 Coast Guard cutters, finally retiring as a chief warrant officer in 1966.
Operation Rematau is how U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam supports the overarching Coast Guard endeavor Operation Blue Pacific to promote security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania. Rematau means people of the deep sea. It recognizes the wisdom of the Pacific Island Forum leaders in that securing the future requires long-term vision and a carefully considered regional strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. Operation Rematau reinforces U.S. commitment to working together to advance Pacific regionalism based on the Blue Pacific narrative. This action supports U.S. national security objectives, bolstering regional maritime governance and security. (USCG)