The U.S. Coast Guard will increase its presence and deployments to Asia – particularly around Oceania and U.S. Pacific territories – and test out a new operational deployment concept in the region, service head Adm. Karl Schultz told reporters on Thursday.
“My vision for the Coast Guard is to expand our permanent presence and effectiveness in the region through expeditionary capabilities, which is why we are doubling down in Oceania,” he said. “In the next month, we’ll be deploying Coast Guard assets in a new operating concept to strengthen the community of island nations thorough Operation Aiga – that’s Samoan for ‘family’.”
The operation is a 30-day deployment of a 225-foot Juniper-class buoy tender and a Fast Response Cutter to partner with Pacific island nations. The buoy tender’s presence is a proof-of-concept operation to see if it could function as a mothership to smaller patrol craft. If successful, Schultz said this could be the start of similar operations with partner nations. While he said he believed the Coast Guard will continue to contribute to security and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and East China Sea, he added that the most suitable way for the Coast Guard to exert influence in the Pacific is to operate at a partner-nation level.