WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) conducted an Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) with U.S. Coast Guard’s 14th District, Aug. 5 - 21, in the Western Pacific Ocean.
OMSI is a maritime security operation designed to enhance maritime domain awareness, increase law enforcement presence, and expand at-sea law enforcement capabilities throughout Oceania.
“We were there to provide key presence in the region and build partner nation capacity for a critical oceanic partner,” said Cmdr. Shea Thompson, Chafee’s commanding officer. “Our presence with the Coast Guard and our partner nation set a new tone of deterrence in the region and will prevent future violations.”
The Navy-Coast Guard team, including the two embarked MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, conducted a total of 19 external visual inspections and nine boardings to internally inspect fishing vessels across three separate jurisdictional areas – high seas, Marshall Islands and Nauru exclusive economic zones (EEZ). The boarding inspection resulted in some documented violations and, more importantly, demonstrated U.S. commitment to regulating these fishing areas in partnership with our friends in the region.
"Working side by side with Coast Guard in support of District 14's initiative was a unique and beneficial mission for Chafee Sailors,” said Lt. Robert Eidson, Chafee’s weapons officer. “Not only were we able to experience, first hand, the great efforts required for law enforcement at sea, we also had the privilege of working side by side with an elite Coast Guard Law Enforcement team. The team provided invaluable training to Chafee's Visual Board Search and Seizure team to include tactical team movements, tactical combat casualty care, and safe boarding techniques. Cognizant of the level of expertise that comes with a Coast Guard Law Enforcement team, we welcomed this training with enthusiasm."
OMSI is a Secretary of Defense program which leverages Department of Defense assets transiting the region to increase the U.S. Coast Guard's maritime domain awareness (MDA), ultimately supporting its maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for patrolling the waters around the numerous islands associated with the United States throughout the region. Each of these islands have territorial waters stretching out to 12 miles from shore. Beyond that, stretching out to 200 nautical miles is an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area defined by international law that allows each nation exclusive rights to the exploration and use of marine resources. Oceania contains 43 percent, or approximately 1.3 million square miles, of United States' EEZs.
Chafee was deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operation supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.