Coast Guard Cutter William Hart completes Operation ‘Aiga

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart participates in the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Kurukuru off American Samoa, Oct. 29, 2021. Operation Kurukuru is an annual coordinated maritime surveillance operation with the goal of combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart/Released)

The Coast Guard Cutter William Hart file photo/ (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart)

HONOLULU — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart returned to Honolulu after completing a 42-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga on Monday.

During the 8,616 nautical-mile patrol, the cutter’s crew conducted operations to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and strengthened relations with foreign allies while promoting the collective maritime sovereignty and resource security of partner nations in the Blue Pacific.

Operation “Aiga,” the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with our Pacific Island Country partners in order to effectively and efficiently protect shared national interests, combat IUU fishing, and strengthen maritime governance on the high seas.

“During our deployment in the Blue Pacific, we supported efforts to counter and deter illegal fishing activities in the exclusive economic zones of Kiribati, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, the United States, and on the high seas,” said Cmdr Cynthia Travers, commanding officer of the William Hart.

During the first port call of the patrol at Kiritimati Island, Kiribati, the William Hart’s crew delivered COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) donated by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The PPE supplies included face masks, gloves, and other protective gear to assist the island in their COVID-19 readiness and ensure the safety of its 7,000 citizens.

While in Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, the crew conducted two bilateral shiprider boardings. One crew member from the William Hart was sent shore side to work with the Ministry of Maritime Resources for Rarotonga to assist in directing the cutter towards targets of interest.

Additionally, the crew executed a law enforcement subject matter expert exchange with the crew of Te Kukupa II, a maritime police patrol boat for Rarotonga, followed by cross ship tours for vital information and best practices sharing.

“It was a privilege to work alongside fellow maritime professionals in the region, and we look forward to future opportunities to strengthen maritime governance and preserve maritime sovereignty by working with our Pacific Island partners,” said Travers.

During the William Hart’s port visit in Apia, Samoa, the crew conducted two bilateral shiprider boardings and investigations of targets within the Samoa EEZ. While the cutter was underway with Samoan ship riders, two crew members went ashore to work with the U.S. Embassy in Samoa and assist with shore side logistics.

Additionally, the crew participated in community engagement and outreach events, including ship tours for partner maritime organizations and students from the School of Maritime Training, and a beach clean-up with staff from the U.S. Embassy in Samoa. The crew conducted an under-way tour for members from the Deputy Prime Minister office, the U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires office, the Australian and British High Commissioners, and others.

The William Hart is one of six highly capable FRCs stationed throughout District 14. Their crews provide year-round search and rescue and maritime law enforcement coverage across a 15 million square mile area of responsibility, demonstrating the Coast Guard’s commitment to our partner nations across the Blue Pacific.

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