Coast Guard Cutter Kiska completes patrol off CNMI

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The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336) patrols off the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands May 11, 2020. The crew concluded a successful 18-day patrol in support of counter-Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and regional security operations in Northern Marianas and Western Pacific, in mid-May. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Kiska/Released)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336) concluded a successful 18-day patrol in support of counter-Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and regional security operations in Northern Marianas and Western Pacific, in mid-May.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to extend U.S. and Coast Guard presence within Sector Guam’s area of responsibility,” said Lt. Brenden Kelley, commanding officer, cutter Kiska. “Our presence in the area shows our partners the Coast Guard’s enduring efforts to provide search and rescue response, safety in the marine industry, and oversight of important economic resources during worldwide disease response measures. I also want to highlight the high crew performance, especially in light of the COVID-19 precautions taken by all hands.”

Kiska’s crew protected U.S. fisheries and sovereignty by patrolling the region by conducting maritime security and law enforcement patrols in the Northern Mariana Island Chain and conducting fisheries boardings along the west and southwest part of the US exclusive economic zone under federal fisheries guidelines and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Inspecting foreign-flagged fishing vessels for compliance of international fisheries regulations under the WCPFC promotes regional maritime governance and sustainability.

“Training is also an important component of underway time and affects our readiness,” said Kelley. “The team aboard Kiska knocked out officer of the deck, basic engineering, and casualty drills as well as navigation, gunnery, and towing exercises. Our thanks to the Navy Coastal Riverine Group for their participation.”

Seaman Cade Ambeau of the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336) documents vessels during a maritime domain awareness operations off the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands May 8, 2020. The crew concluded a successful 18-day patrol in support of counter-Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and regional security operations in Northern Marianas and Western Pacific, in mid-May. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by USCGC Kiska/Released)

In addition to gaining skills, Coast Guard crews must remain current on those competencies they have achieved. During this underway period, we validated currencies for coxswain, crewman, and shipboard launch and recovery of our small boat. These are essential mission skills.”

While patrolling over 2,333 square nautical miles (2,685 statute miles), the Kiska’s law enforcement team boarded a Taiwanese-flagged vessel 11 miles outside the US EEZ on the high seas and verified their compliance with all applicable regulations and conservation management measures.

“The ongoing presence of a Coast Guard cutter in this part of the Pacific to assist in determining compliance with conservation management measures established by the WCPFC demonstrates the US commitment to the region and our partners,” said Kelley. “The Kiska is one of the last 110-foot Island Class patrol boats in operation and continues to serve the Pacific admirably.”

The Kiska will be joined by, and eventually replaced by the 154-foot Fast Response Cutters. The first of which is due in Guam later this year.

The WCPFC is an international body made up of 43 nations and international organizations. Members agree to allow the 13 countries in the pact to board and record any potential violations on their nationally flagged vessels. The findings go to the WCPFC, who notifies the vessel’s flag state of the suspected infraction for further investigation.