SANTA RITA, Guam -- As part of Operation Rematau, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143) conducted community engagements in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, from Nov. 20 to 24, 2022.
"We appreciate the support of the U.S. Embassy team and the Australian Maritime Advisors to make our visit a success," said Lt. Patrick Dreiss, commanding officer of Frederick Hatch. "Coming into these islands and doing community relations is a lot of fun. It might seem like work, but especially when the local high schoolers come aboard, it is cool to show off the ship and see how much they enjoy seeing the different capabilities and the cool things our ship can do. It's fun to watch our crewmembers get the chance to show the vessel to them also."
The crew hosted visits from more than 80 senior students at Pohnpei Catholic School and the Calvary Christian Academy, colleagues from the U.S. Navy Seabee detachment in Pohnpei, embassy staff and families, and members of the FSM National Police Maritime Wing. They also took time to experience local food and culture, dive, and visit the ancient ruins of Nan Madol, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“While playing the Seabee detachment at the softball field in town, an impromptu game between the Americans and a local high school team broke out with a considerable crowd gathering to watch,” said Dreiss. “We’re calling out the Seabees on our team for the narrow 10-9 loss. But seriously, it was a great event for all.”
The community events are part of a more extensive regional patrol. The Frederick Hatch crew also conducted six at-sea boardings of fishing vessels with an FSM shiprider aboard. No violations of applicable regulations were noted during the boardings. This activity was the first time in several years an FSM shiprider could accompany U.S. Coast Guard crews as the country resumes normal operations after limiting travel as a COVID precaution.
"We had a fisheries officer from the FSM Maritime National Police conduct boardings on vessels in the FSM Exclusive Economic Zone. It's a great opportunity to swap stories and learn about different things, like how they view the issues we are trying to tackle when it comes to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It's a great chance to strengthen the bond we have with our allies and partners in the region," Dreiss said.
The Frederick Hatch's arrival to Pohnpei was ahead of schedule as they executed a medical evacuation of a 31-year-old Vietnamese fisherman from the Nauru-flagged, 69.4 meter (227 foot) purse seiner fishing vessel, Ocean Galaxy 195 nautical miles (224 statute miles) south of Pohnpei.
"It was an absolute team effort by every member of Frederick Hatch to medevac the injured crewmember from the Ocean Galaxy successfully. Witnessing each crewmember perform at the highest level after completing two boardings earlier the same day to help a fellow mariner was awesome to watch," said Dreiss.
The fisherman reportedly fell 12 feet earlier the same day, sustaining a head and possible spinal injury. He was conscious and talking but lost feeling and motion in his right arm and both legs, exhibiting severe concussion symptoms. The Frederick Hatch crew completed the transit to Pohnpei in about eight hours to arrive around midnight. They then transferred the injured fisherman to awaiting emergency medical services, who took him to the local hospital. The embarked hospital corpsman and linguist accompanied the fisherman to pass on relevant medical details and ensure hospital staff could communicate with him.
The Frederick Hatch is on an expeditionary patrol in Oceania in support of Operation Rematau and Operation Blue Pacific to promote security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania. In Micronesia, Rematau means people of the deep sea. It highlights the connection between mariners and honors the shared understanding in the Pacific that securing the future requires long-term vision and a carefully considered regional strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
The Frederick Hatch is the 43rd 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutter named for a surfman and lighthouse keeper who was a two-time Gold Life Saving Medal recipient. The Service commissioned the ship along with its sister ships, Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) and Oliver Henry (WPC 1140), in Guam in July 2021. These cutters are a vital part of the U.S. Coast Guard's enduring regional presence serving the people of the Pacific by conducting 10 of the Service's 11 statutory missions with a focus on search and rescue, defense readiness, living marine resources protection, and ensuring commerce through marine safety and ports, waterways, and coastal security.