HONOLULU, Hawaii -- The United States and partners from 17 countries and territories successfully concluded the eighth iteration of the Pacific Search and Rescue workshop Friday, culminating more than a decade of joint work on the issue.
"Members of the Pacific community, including the United States, came together this week to focus on our top shared priority—working together to improve search and rescue across the blue Pacific," said Rear Adm. Kevin Lunday, Commander, Coast Guard 14th District. "Search and rescue is not just something we do; it is a principal mission that defines who we are. And we work with and depend on search and rescue experts in Pacific Island Country partners and allies each day to save those in peril on the sea. This week's important workshop and exercise not only will save more lives, but also strengthen maritime governance among the Pacific community, which is part of the rules-based international order that is essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific."
On behalf of the Pacific Search and Rescue Steering Committee, the United States hosted delegations from around the Pacific in Honolulu at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies to discuss search and rescue throughout the region. At the conclusion, Australia received the chair from the United States.
The Steering Committee is a collective of search and rescue agencies from five principle nations; Australia, Fiji, France, New Zealand, and the United States. Each government is committed to working with neighboring countries or territories within or near their areas of responsibility to build SAR response capability. Communally, the committee is working to develop SAR capability and cooperation across the Pacific to work together seamlessly to save lives.
The biennial Pacific Regional SAR Workshop is a forum for improving SAR capability and capacity throughout the Pacific region. Maritime New Zealand hosted the previous workshop in Auckland in 2017. This year in Honolulu the group gave reports, conducted case studies, participated in an on-the-water joint exercise including ships and aircraft. The next workshop is anticipated in 2021 in Australia.
The coordinated effort of those involved garners supports from the International Maritime Organization and the Pacific Community. This support enables pacific island states to attend the workshops and provides for the development of participants' strategic plans. The implementation of these plans already shows results, especially in terms of the political will of all governments.
The long-term goal of these regular workshops is to further the mission of the steering committee to measurably improve the SAR capability of each of the Pacific Island countries or territories in line with international standards and the PACSAR measures of success by 2021. The workshops are a place to collaboratively share successes and continue the learning process by assessing strengths, risks, opportunities for partnerships, and to learn from each other.