Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia Makes History in Micronesia

APRA HARBOR, Guam — Historical outreach in Micronesia by the crew of a Coast Guard cutter home ported in Guam will pay huge dividends in the area, according to members of her crew.

The buoy tender Sequoia returned to Guam Dec. 15, from a seven-week multi-mission deployment in which it became the first Coast Guard cutter to embark foreign law enforcement officials and successfully conduct joint boardings at sea in the Pacific.

The Sequoia began the deployment Oct. 24, with a trip to Kwajalein Atoll to service aids to navigation. The crew then traveled to Tarawa, Kiribati, and embarked two police officers from that country’s maritime branch and one fisheries agent.

Joint U.S. Coast Guard and Kiribati law enforcement teams conducted six at-sea boardings of commercial fishing vessels, ensuring compliance with Kiribati fisheries law. The joint boarding teams found no major violations but issued warnings under the jurisdiction of Kiribati fisheries’ laws.

The Sequoia and her crew then traveled to Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) to conduct two days of training, covering topics such as damage control, navigation, and law enforcement with the crew of the RMIS Lomor and other members of the Marshallese Sea Patrol.

The Sequoia’s RMI engagement was capped off by a third day of at-sea boardings of commercial fishing vessels in the area by joint U.S. Coast Guard and Marshallese Sea Patrol boarding teams. The multi-national boarding teams conducted boardings of three commercial fishing vessels and issued several warnings.

The Sequoia and her crew then traveled to Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and embarked two FSM maritime law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, due to weather and logistics, the Sequoia’s crew was unable to conduct joint boardings with the FSM ship riders.

The Sequoia’s crew hopes for continued engagement with Pacific island nations in order to continue to improve international cooperation for increased maritime domain awareness, says Ens. Ian Mulcahy.

The Coast Guard had embarked foreign law enforcement personnel before in the Pacific, but this was the first time joint boardings were conducted. Weather and logistics have prevented similar operations from taking place before.

“It was a great learning experience, for everyone involved,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class James MacAdam, a member of the joint boarding teams. “It was a great chance to see how other nations operate and show them how we accomplish the same mission.”

In addition to conducting joint boardings, the Sequoia embarked the U.S. Ambassadors to Majuro, RMI and Kolonia, FSM, for ceremonies marking the significance of the joint efforts.

The Sequoia is a 225-foot buoy tender manned by a crew of eight officers and 43 enlisted personnel. The Sequoia’s primary missions are maintaining aids to navigation, homeland security, law enforcement, marine environmental protection and search and rescue.

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