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NEWS | Dec. 8, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard conducts security boarding at Port of Guam, bolstering maritime security

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Boarding Team, a key component of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, conducted a thorough security boarding of the 380-foot (116-meter) motor vessel Papa Mau, flagged from Antigua Barbuda, at the Port of Guam on Dec. 6, 2023.

This general cargo vessel, arriving from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), was meticulously inspected upon reaching Guam and found to be in full compliance.

The fact the port in Pohnpei is working to meet U.S. International Port Security Standards, but has not yet achieved this status, and the vessel crew took no other advance notice or security actions, necessitated this boarding. The operation ensured the vessel's crew complement matched its manifest and other security measures were in place. This step is crucial for maintaining the high maritime safety and security standards that the U.S. Coast Guard and the Port of Guam uphold.

This operation comes after the U.S. Coast Guard International Port Security (IPS) Program's successful bilateral exchange with FSM in Chuuk and Pohnpei. Held from Oct. 15 to 19, this initiative aimed to enhance compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. This collaboration underscores the mutual commitment to maritime safety and environmental stewardship in the Pacific region.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Bruce, leading the Sector Boarding Team (SBT) as the boarding officer, praised his team's efforts: "Our team's professionalism and flexibility are key in providing essential services to ensure maritime security in Micronesia. We're committed to maintaining safe and secure maritime routes, vital for the region's prosperity."

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Boarding Team in Guam is pivotal in safeguarding the port's security. Working in synergy with other units, including the Joint Rescue Sub-Center and fast response cutters, the team significantly contributes to the U.S. Coast Guard's robust presence in the Pacific.

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam is renowned for its comprehensive approach to executing various statutory missions. These include search and rescue, defense readiness, and protection of living marine resources. A significant focus remains on ensuring smooth maritime commerce and security of ports, waterways, and coastal areas.

The ISPS Code, integral to these operations, is a vital global standard for maritime security. Instituted post-9/11, it aims to detect and prevent security threats in international maritime transport. The Federated States of Micronesia, as a signatory to the SOLAS convention, is actively working towards full compliance with the ISPS Code.

Looking forward, the U.S. Coast Guard International Port Security Program plans to conduct biannual visits to FSM. These visits are pivotal for fostering collaboration and ensuring continuous progress in meeting ISPS compliance.

One cannot overstate the strategic value of Guam as a hub for the U.S. Coast Guard's operations in the region. As a gateway to the Pacific, Guam is crucial in bolstering maritime security and facilitating safe and efficient maritime commerce.

As FSM continues its journey towards ISPS compliance, the U.S. Coast Guard's role in ensuring port security and fostering international maritime cooperation remains more critical than ever. Through these collaborative efforts, the U.S. Coast Guard and its partners in the Pacific are setting a solid example of commitment to maritime safety, security, and stewardship.

-USCG-

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