USCG, partners welcome first cruise ships to visit Guam since pandemic
SANTA RITA, Guam—The U.S. Coast Guard, Port of Guam, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Police, Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, Guam Police Department, and other federal agencies worked together last Feb. 24 and March 3, 2023, to welcome the first cruise ships to Guam since the territory reopened following the COVID 19 pandemic.
The 633-foot Bahamas-flagged MS Amadea called on Guam on Feb. 24, while the 951-foot United Kingdom-flagged MS Diamond Princess arrived on March 3.
U.S. Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor, alongside the Guam Police Department Marine Unit, provided an escort into and out of the port. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also conducted operations for the arrival of the Amadea, as it was arriving from a non-U.S. port. The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Sector Boarding Team, and in the case of the Diamond Princess, augmented by members of Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu, along with vessel and facility examiners from the Prevention Division, attended the vessels to ensure safety and security for the passengers, crew, and Port of Guam.
“The officers and crews of both the Amadea and Diamond Princess were very accommodating, and everything was in order. They recently had a full certificate of compliance inspection by our team in American Samoa. The Diamond Princess was last in Honolulu coming from the West Coast,” said Lt. j.g. Ronell Rivera, supervisor of the Sector Boarding Team. “We appreciate the strong relationships with all our island partners. The success of the evolutions is a testament to the planning and work ahead of time by all parties. Everyone’s goal was to ensure the safety and security of the port while making it as smooth a process for the visiting vessel’s crew and passengers as possible.”
While aboard the vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard team walked all decks looking for any security issues, and examined all relevant paperwork. In the case of the Amadea, this was the first U.S. port for the vessel since leaving a foreign or non-U.S. port requiring a visit from the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel inspectors from the prevention team also conducted a spot check on the vessel. At the same time, their facility side colleagues assessed the measures the port staff took to ensure the safety and security of any disembarking crew or passengers and the port itself. The U.S. Coast Guard team remained on hand to assist with shoreside security until the ships departed.
The two ships comprise a total capacity for around 3,290 guests and 1,390 crew, though they were not at maximum occupancy. Pre-COVID, Guam averaged about five cruise ships a year. Another three cruise ship visits are anticipated this calendar year. The port reportedly continues to improve accommodations for the small cruise ship industry and tourism. According to Guam’s Economic Development Authority, tourism is Guam’s top industry generating $1.4 billion for the economy and supporting as many as 18,000 jobs. A 2020 report from the Guam Visitors Bureau stated the tourism industry, directly and indirectly, accounted for 60 percent of Guam’s total revenues.
“The U.S. Coast Guard’s role in the tourism industry is to ensure compliance with applicable regulations for any water or port-related activities and the safety of all waterway users,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “Being a good partner and supporting our industry and response partners is at the forefront of what we do to ensure a safe and vibrant Guam.”
U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam comprises nearly 300 personnel throughout the response, prevention, administrative, and logistics departments supporting the Joint Rescue Sub-Center, three fast response cutters, a small boat station, and a marine safety detachment in Saipan. The unit provides a significant portion of the U.S. Coast Guard’s enduring regional presence serving the people of the Pacific by conducting our six major operational mission programs: maritime law enforcement, maritime response, maritime prevention, marine transportation system management, maritime security operations, and defense operations. (USCG)