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NEWS | April 29, 2024

USCGC Frederick Hatch: A beacon of excellence and diplomacy in the Pacific

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

Honoring the Legacy of Maritime Excellence

In January 2024, the Surface Navy Association National Symposium in Washington, D.C., was marked by the commendation of the USCGC Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143) crew as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (Small). This accolade recognizes operational efficiency and pays tribute to the spirit of pioneering leadership and maritime governance that defines the U.S. Coast Guard.

"I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Frederick Hatch crew that led to our success over the past year and the cutter's subsequent selection for this award. They pushed the boundaries of what is possible for Fast Response Cutters and Oceania operations while overcoming significant challenges, and their influence across the region and Service cannot be overstated. It was an honor to accept the award alongside them, as the camaraderie and teamwork they have developed make Frederick Hatch a great place to work every day," said Lt. Patrick Dreiss, commanding officer of USCGC Frederick Hatch.

The award, named after Hopley Yeaton, the first officer commissioned into the Revenue under the Constitution Marine by George Washington, reflects a deep-rooted legacy. Yeaton, known as the "Father of the Coast Guard," was instrumental in setting standards for the Revenue Cutter Service, enforcing maritime laws, and combating smuggling along the New England coast. His contributions laid the groundwork for today's Coast Guard's values and mission that continue to expand in the Pacific.

"Over the years, I've seen our missions expand dramatically, but one thing remains constant—the enduring relationships we've built. These connections are the backbone of our operational success and the heart of our community engagement," said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.

The Frederick Hatch: A Sentinel of Safety and Cooperation

Named for Frederick Hatch, a distinguished surfman and lighthouse keeper who twice received the Gold Life Saving Medal, the cutter continues his legacy of valor and service. The Frederick Hatch plays a critical role in regional security, environmental protection, and fostering international cooperation in the Pacific.

In 2023, the Frederick Hatch crew was pivotal in exercising new bilateral agreements with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau, enhancing maritime law enforcement capabilities without requiring a shiprider to be physically present. This historic move streamlined operations, increasing reach in a vast area with limited enforcement assets and fortified trust and collaboration with Pacific Island nations.

"Hatch's selection for this award, I think, also reflects the Coast Guard's commitment to Micronesia and our Pacific Island partners we work with regularly," said Dreiss. "Cutters across the world are doing important work every day, and selecting a Guam-based FRC for this award shows how impactful the service views the connection with our great partners across the COFA states, Melanesia, and even to the Philippines."

Diplomacy and Community Engagement: Beyond Maritime Patrols

The Frederick Hatch's missions extend well beyond enforcement; they are also acts of diplomacy and community outreach. The cutter's first visit to Tacloban, Leyte, was the first for a U.S. Coast Guard vessel since World War II, and engagements during Operation Rematau in the waters and ports of the Marianas and the Compact of Free Association nations underline the Coast Guard's role as a bridge between cultures and peoples.

"By championing multilateralism and proactive diplomacy, the USCC Frederick Hatch and all our crews play a pivotal role in forging paths of peace and partnership across the Pacific, thereby enhancing regional stability and nurturing enduring friendships," said Simmons.

The period of the award for Frederick Hatch covers versatile operations in Fiscal Year 2023, from pioneering the first patrols post-COVID across Micronesia to the heroic fishing vessel Ocean Galaxy medevac and the challenging tow of the motor vessel Mama Loling north of Saipan, and of course their role leading the three Guam-based Fast Response Cutters through storm avoidance in Yap and back to Guam for local response following Super Typhoon Mawar. Their continuous engagement in cultural and humanitarian missions has been as robust in Fiscal Year 2024, like participating in Pika Fest and Yap Day and delivering vital supplies to Ulithi Atoll, solidifying their stature as exemplary ambassadors of goodwill and cooperation in the Pacific.

"Every visit to another island creates lasting memories for the crew and they're especially enjoyable visiting during cultural events. It says a lot about the crew of the cutter that they are not only willing to take their limited liberty time in port to participate but also want to be a part of these events and learn more about each unique culture by getting involved, whether it's competing in the Tinian Hot Pepper Eating Contest or playing sports with a local elementary school. These visits are an important part of what we do here, and having a crew ready to answer the call in port after a long day underway highlights another important area of Hatch's success," said Dreiss.

Strategic Impact and Future Endeavors

The crew's operations have significant strategic implications. Showing presence, enforcing regulations, combating illegal activities, and providing regional humanitarian support help maintain stability and order in the vast Pacific waters. These efforts support the U.S. strategic objective of fostering a Pacific characterized by sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

"The Pacific is not just a region of vast waters and scattered islands; it's a vibrant community of shared futures. Our role extends beyond enforcement and aid; it's fundamentally about contributing to a stable, prosperous, and secure Pacific," said Simmons.

As the Frederick Hatch and its crew continue their vigilant watch over the Pacific alongside their sister ships, they carry forward the legacy of Hopley Yeaton and Frederick Hatch, safeguarding maritime interests while nurturing the bonds that hold the fabric of the Pacific community together.

Conclusion

The USCGC Frederick Hatch's receipt of the Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award is a testament to their exemplary service and dedication. It highlights the enduring spirit of the Coast Guard's mission—securing, protecting, and nurturing relationships across the Blue Pacific. As they sail forward, their voyages will continue to embody the ethos of leadership, courage, and community that are the hallmarks of the U.S. Coast Guard.

"The increase in assets and the expansion of our roles and missions here in the Pacific comes with a greater responsibility to foster and maintain the trust we've built. Our commitment is not just for the present; it is a continued pledge for a peaceful and cooperative future," said Simmons.

-USCG-

About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and over 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.

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