The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL 756) returned to Honolulu Friday after completing an expeditionary patrol supporting Operation Blue Pacific, Op Rai Balang, and Op Aloha Shield in the Pacific.
During the 82 day patrol the cutter’s crew worked closely with partners and allied nations on numerous missions ranging from search and rescue to the prevention of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) while promoting stability and security throughout the region.
“I’m tremendously proud of my crew’s exceptional performance, especially considering how their dedication and teamwork allowed them to overcome the many challenges associated with operating by ourselves for long periods of time in remote locations and the difficulties created by the global pandemic,” said Capt. Holly Harrison, the Kimball’s commanding officer. “They adapted and overcame every obstacle and challenge put in their way with ease, exactly what you’d expect from our phenomenal Coast Guardsmen and women.”
One of the main goals of the 20,000 nautical-mile patrol was to assist the United States’ partners in the region with combating IUU.
Throughout the deployment the cutter’s crew worked closely with the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) during Op Rai Balang, a coordinated effort between partners in the region to combat IUU, while also enforcing Western and Central Fisheries Commission regulations on the high seas to protect the region’s fish stocks.
Fish stocks are a vital renewable resource for many nations in the Pacific. Because of the migratory nature of fish, efforts towards their conservation requires teamwork between the partner nations.
The multi-million-dollar IUU fishing industry represents a direct threat to the partners efforts to ensure these resources remain sustainable for years to come and throughout the patrol the crew of the Kimball worked with the governments of the Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Papau New Guinea to strengthen domain awareness and resource security within the nation’s economic exclusive zones.
During the patrol the crew queried 21 foreign fishing vessels, and boarded six generating vital information reports for the partners in their efforts to combat IUU.
“The National Security Cutters bring a capacity and capability into the Coast Guard which are truly game changing when it comes to curbing IUU in the Pacific,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Sibley, commander, Coast Guard 14th District. “Patrols such as the Kimball’s display these cutters ability to cover large swaths of the Pacific and support our partners in joint conservation efforts while contributing to the overall stability of the region.”
The Kimball is one of the Coast Guard’s newer 420-foot Legend-class National Security Cutter and boasts a wide array of modern capabilities helping the crew to complete their varied missions.
Throughout the patrol the crew utilized the cutter’s ability to deploy Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to collect observation reports on vessels of interest which were shared with Maritime Security Advisors and the FFA Regional Fisheries Surveillance Center.
The UAS was also utilized during both day and night searches for a missing mariner southwest of Guam displaying the versatility of the new technology and its potential in multiple types of missions.
Another key goal of the patrol was to increase interoperability between the Coast Guard and our partners in the region.
The Kimball’s crew participated in a number of exercises with partners in the region including training with a Royal Australian Navy Sea Dragon aircraft crew during the FFA Op Rai Balang, joint interdiction training with the Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, and an exercise with the USS Tulsa.
“Over the past 82-days, Kimball’s crew conducted joint operations with the Japanese Coast Guard, Royal Australian Navy, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, and U.S. Navy.” said Harrison. “In each operation, we were thoroughly impressed with our partners’ professionalism, skill, and commitment to Oceania and regional security.”