Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry policing Samoa’s seas.
While Samoa’s National Nafanua patrol boat is out of service, the US Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Oliver Berry crew have been patrolling Samoa’s exclusive economic zone this month, and promoting resource security within the area.
The Oliver Berry’s crew helped to fill the policing gap for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Samoa’s seas while the Nafanua II patrol boat is in service, on route to Australia for repairs.
“The United States offered to assist the Government of Samoa by providing security and sovereignty operations in Samoan waters due to the absence of their patrol boat,” said Cmdr. Jeff Bryant, the 14th District’s chief of enforcement. “It was a pleasure to support Samoa in enforcing their laws to protect fisheries and other natural resources within their EEZ.”
Tha Nafanua II was stranded for just over a month before it was loaded onto a barge and taken to Australia on an approximate three-week journey to undergo repairs. The Officer in Charge of Police Maritime and the Nafanua II Superintendent Taito Sefo Faafoi Hunt has been suspended while investigations continue into the incident that ran aground the Nafanua II Police Patrol boat near Salelologa waters in early August.
In July the US commissioned three new Fast Response Cutters in Guam to up its coverage of the Pacific, amid increasing concerns of overfishing.
The U.S. Coast Guard employs 11 bilateral ship-rider agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations, including Samoa, to help them ensure their resource security and maritime sovereignty. Pursuant to those agreements, host government officials generally join Coast Guard patrols. However, due to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, the Oliver Berry did not make any shore visits or host Samoan government officials aboard.
Acting Chargé d’Affaires Mark Hitchcock said, “The Oliver Berry’s patrol operations highlighted the close U.S.-Samoa partnership and our shared commitment to ensuring security and freedom of navigation in the Pacific”.
“We look forward to working with the Samoan Government and Coast Guard to facilitate additional patrols in the near future,” he added.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Government of Samoa have a history of partnership. In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutters Walnut and Joseph Gerczak visited Apia Harbor and conducted patrol operations with officials from Samoa’s Ministry of Police and Ministry of Fisheries aboard. Crew from the Coast Guard Cutters also visited Lufilufi Primary School on Upolu Island to donate books, stationary, and sports gear and met with the Samoa Victim Support Group, a non-profit organization that specializes in providing shelter for domestic abuse victims, to donate children’s clothes, baby bottles, toddler blankets and reading materials.