South Atlantic area of global contention? US Coast Guard heads to South America to patrol IUU fishing
The following article by Gidget Fuentes in USNI News provides an account of the USCGC (WMSL / 758) mission Stone, fresh out of the shipyard and quarantine, and who left Mississippi on December 22 for patrol of the South Atlantic:
The Coast Guard’s newest National Security Coast Guard begins its first operational patrol in the South Atlantic to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing off South America.
The Legend class Pierre USCGC (WMSL-758) and her crew of 120 men and women transformed what is typically a “shakedown” cruise last week into preparations on short notice to conduct maritime security operations off South America after departure. from Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Coast Guard had received Calculation shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries, on Nov. 10 and slated for commissioning at its future home port of Charleston, SC, now slated after returning from deployment.
The departure came after a two-week on-board restriction during which crew members remained docked when not eating or exercising. After leaving Pascagoula just before Christmas, the crew attended to drills and training, including small craft operations, abandon ship drills and helicopter operations.
The inaugural deployment is “a multi-month deployment to the South Atlantic to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing while strengthening relationships for maritime sovereignty and security throughout the region,” according to a press release of the Coast Guard. “This is the service’s first patrol in South America in recent memory, involving partners such as Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Portugal. A Portuguese Navy observer embarked the cutter for the duration of Operation Southern Cross in the US Southern Command area.
“The Stone Patrol demonstrates our commitment to the rules-based established order while combating IUU fishing wherever a Coast Guard is deployed,” said Vice-Admiral Steven Poulin, Atlantic Area Commander of the Coast Guard, in a press release.
The Coast Guard viewed the IIU as the primary threat to maritime security and its enforcement as an important mission. Cutters support the application of international law, track illegal activity and patrol established fisheries, usually in concert with regional partners and allies. The largest effort took place in the Pacific, where in 2020 the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea deployed ships, planes and other assets to the during Operation Northern Pacific Guard.
In September, Admiral Karl Schultz, Commander of the Coast Guard, published the “Strategic Outlook for IUU Fishing”, which he described as his “commitment to lead a global effort to combat illegal exploitation of the stocks. fish from the ocean and protect our national interests ”. The Coast Guard’s contribution would be threefold: targeted and intelligence-led enforcement operations, counter-predatory and irresponsible state behavior, and expanded multilateral cooperation in fisheries enforcement.
“Not all maritime nations have the capacity to monitor their sovereign waters or the moral conscience to monitor their fleets; this lack of shared responsibility creates opportunities for exploitation in the form of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, ”Schultz wrote. “This exploitation erodes both regional and national security, undermines the rules-based maritime order, jeopardizes access and availability of food and destroys legitimate economies.
“IUU fishing has replaced piracy as the main global threat to maritime security. If IUU fishing continues unchecked, we can expect deterioration of fragile coastal states and increased tension between foreign fishing nations, threatening geopolitical stability around the world.
While much attention has been paid to the Pacific, where U.S. officials say China’s expanding fishing and patrol fleets have flouted international law and threaten the economic security and sovereignty of nations, similar concerns exist. for the natural resources of the South Atlantic. Growing concerns over illegal fishing activities off South America, including sightings of more Chinese and Asian fishing vessels, have prompted Argentina to purchase new offshore patrol vessels for its coast guard. .
Stone’s deployment to the South Atlantic comes as her crew prepared for the test cruise even as it remained aboard the cutter for a mandatory quarantine before departure.
“It is no small task to assemble a crew and prepare a cutter for the sea – but this crew had to accomplish this difficult task while respecting the protective measures associated with the coronavirus-19 pandemic,” said Captain Adam Morrison, Commandant of Stone. in a report. “The crew and I look forward to this historic first voyage as Stone begins a rich career in service to this nation. While balancing the training and qualification requirements, Stone’s crew will engage with partner nations in South America in a like-minded pursuit to combat illegal fishing tactics.
“I can’t think of a better ending to 2020 than seeing the pride on the faces of our shipbuilders as Stone moves away from our shipyard to join the Coast Guard cutters fleet,” said the President. from Ingalls Shipbuilding, Brian Cuccias, in a press release. “Our workforce has provided the Coast Guard with another state-of-the-art and highly capable national security coastguard that will function for decades to ensure the maritime safety and security of our country.”
Stone will be commissioned in Charleston, home port of two other national security cutters, USCGC Hamilton (WMSL-753) and USCGC James (WMSL-754).
The cutter is named for the late Cmdr. Elmer “Archie” Fowler Stone, who in 1917 became the first Coast Guard aviator and, two years later, was one of two pilots to successfully complete a transatlantic flight in a Navy seaplane. The 418-foot, 4,500-ton tiller can operate for up to 60 days without assistance.