The USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139) crew received the ship’s first unit award on Sept. 30, highlighting the new platform’s value in the region.
The Coast Guard Unit Commendation, presented for meritorious service from January 2020 to April 2022, acknowledges the first FRC to arrive in Guam, overcoming the associated challenges with the 10,500 nautical miles transit from Key West made more complex by the COVID-19 pandemic and the crew’s initial patrol success.
“My thanks to those who were here for all they did to get the ship ready, to get the ship here, and to establish that first FRC presence in the region,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia. “The things in this award are still pertinent. We’re still going 3,000 miles one way to do the mission. The original Pacific Area memo on FRC employment in the region says FRCs will normally operate within 200 nautical miles of shore. Our ships only operate within 200 nautical miles of land when we’re going to the place we’re going to operate. Nearly everything is outside that scope. These crews push the limits of this platform in this region for very rewarding and valuable work. This award is an exclamation point on everything you have accomplished as a crew and that we will accomplish together moving ahead.”
The first patrol illustrates this new platform’s value to the region, overcoming the COVID environment to conduct the first Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission boarding during that time. The crew went on to complete a significant boarding off Nauru, uncovering an illegal shark finning operation, more than 3,000 nautical miles from Guam.
In another notable first, the crew exercised a bilateral agreement with partners in the Republic of Palau to provide a first-of-its-kind technical assistance boarding of a People’s Republic of China-flagged fishing vessel suspected of poaching within the Palau National Marine Sanctuary in December 2020. This effort led to a boarding and case package, which enabled the seizure of catch and $30,000 in cash, the detention of 28 crew, and vital information sharing on illegal fishing activities with stakeholders.
“For those remaining from the first crew, we’re still feeling a lot of your effort and now contributing our own as the second crew. That transit, 10,500 nautical miles, is substantial. I’m really proud to be part of this crew and especially thankful to our folks on shore for always supporting us,” said Lt. Jalle Merritt, commanding officer of USCGC Myrtle Hazard.
The Myrtle Hazard is the 39th 154-foot Sentinel-class fast response cutter named for the first enlisted woman, an electrician, and radio operator, in the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship was commissioned along with its sister ships, Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) and Frederick Hatch (1143), in Guam in July 2021. These cutters are a vital part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s enduring regional presence serving the people of the Pacific by conducting 10 of the Service’s 11 statutory missions with a focus on search and rescue, defense readiness, living marine resources protection, and ensuring commerce through marine safety and ports, waterways, and coastal security.