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NEWS | March 5, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard conduct combined patrol with Marshallese partners under Operation Blue Pacific

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

Following efforts with Kiribati partners, the USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) crew recently concluded the next leg of their expeditionary patrol from Feb. 20 to 27, 2024, spending time in Majuro, Wotje Atoll, and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) working with partners, underscoring commitment to maritime security and international cooperation regionally.

Underway in support of Operation Blue Pacific, the cutter crew showcased the effectiveness of the U.S. and RMI maritime bilateral agreement, conducting a shared patrol with shipriders emphasizing collaborative efforts in maritime safety, security, and stewardship in terms of resource protection.

"The shared efforts in patrolling, enforcing maritime regulations, and sharing expertise contribute to maintaining a secure and sustainable maritime environment," said Lt. Ray Cerrato, commanding officer of the USCGC Oliver Henry. "The U.S. and RMI shiprider operations under the bilateral agreement serve as a model for collaborative efforts between nations, fostering a shared commitment to protecting marine resources and building strong partnerships."

During the patrol, Oliver Henry's crew traveled throughout the RMI EEZ with two officers from the RMI maritime police force, the Sea Patrol, who provided a combined presence and conducted three successful maritime law enforcement boardings and three additional observation reports. The combined boarding team found all fishing vessel crews to be operating in compliance with international and Marshallese regulations.

The crew assisted the Marshallese government with transporting 4,000 pounds of essential grocery supplies from Majuro to Wotje Atoll, RMI. The visit to Wotje Atoll was warmly welcomed by Mayor Rithen Lajar, demonstrating the enduring partnership between the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

"We were incredibly humbled by our welcome from Mayor Rithen Lajar to visit Wotje Atoll," said Cerrato. "His willingness to accept our cutter and crew into his home and to entrust us with the chance to bring in much-needed supplies to the atoll was incredibly heartwarming. Our crew couldn't have been more excited and willing to support the mayor's request for assistance."

Additionally, Oliver Henry and RMI Sea Patrol conducted a collaborative session on damage control equipment setup and small boat launch and recovery, strengthening capabilities and fostering camaraderie between the two agencies. In further engagement activities, the crew enjoyed a friendly basketball game with Sea Patrol, won by Sea Patrol, and a BBQ with Royal Australian Navy partners, further strengthening bonds between the participating entities.

"The time patrolling within the RMI EEZ was incredibly effective," said Cerrato. "We look forward to any chance to work with RMI and Sea Patrol during future engagements. We must brush up on our basketball skills before the next match."

The success of the cutter crew's mission reflects a commitment to the region's well-being and reinforces the significance of such missions in maintaining a stable and secure maritime domain. Support from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Majuro, as well as Royal Australian Navy and Marshallese Sea Patrol partners, was instrumental in the success of the patrol effort.

-USCG-

About the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific

The U.S. Coast Guard 14th District, based out of Honolulu, Hawaii, and U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, continue to foster enduring partnerships with regional allies through Operation Blue Pacific, an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor to promote security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania. With humanitarian Service at its core, the U.S. Coast Guard remains committed to maritime safety, security, and stewardship, solidifying its longstanding reputation in the Pacific as a trusted partner.

About USCGC Oliver Henry

USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) 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. Designed for many missions, including search and rescue, national defense, and maritime law enforcement, the Oliver Henry plays a significant role in safeguarding national interests and preserving good maritime governance.

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