BANGKOK: US Coast Guard cutters patrolling as part of an international mission to prevent illegal fishing recently failed to obtain permission for a scheduled port call in the Solomon Islands.
Cutter Oliver Henry was on Operation Island Chief, which oversees fishing activity in the Pacific. That activity ended on Friday, when it attempted to make regular stops at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands to refuel and redeploy Coast Guard offices in Honolulu. Said.
But the Oliver Henry diverted to Papua New Guinea after receiving no response from the Solomon Islands government seeking diplomatic permission to dock the vessel, the Coast Guard said.
It was not disclosed when the Solomon Islands stop was scheduled, but the Coast Guard said Oliver Henry was on Tuesday “after patrolling in the Coral Sea and parts of the Solomon Islands” in Papua New Guinea. I stated that I had arrived in Port Moresby.
The Royal Navy did not directly comment on reports that HMS Spey, which is also participating in Operation Island Chief, was denied port calls in the Solomon Islands.
“The ship’s program is constantly being reviewed and it is routine practice to make changes,” the Royal Navy said in an emailed statement.
“For operational security reasons, we will not discuss further details. The Royal Navy looks forward to visiting the Solomon Islands at a later date.”
While Operation Island Chief, the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and New Zealand provided support through air and ground surveillance to the Pacific island nations participating in the operation, including the Solomon Islands.
As China seeks to aggressively expand its presence and influence in the Pacific, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has warned some neighbors, including the United States, after signing a new security pact with China. issued.
The deal has raised concerns that a Chinese naval base could be established within 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of Australia’s northeast coast. China’s military presence in the Solomon Islands is not only close to Australia and New Zealand, but also close to Guam, a US territory that hosts major military bases.
The Solomon Islands and China deny that their pact will lead to China’s military presence in the South Pacific.
Sogabale also raised eyebrows earlier in August when he skipped a memorial service marking the anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who attended the memorial service for her father who was injured during the Guadalcanal operation, said Sogabale’s absence “missed an important opportunity.”
Senator Marsha Blackburn met with Sogavare in the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, but it was not clear if she had raised the issue of the Coast Guard’s denied port visit.
In a statement on her website, the Tennessee Republican said her visits to the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea “show America’s commitment to the region and are important in expanding strategic ties. It was a step,” he said.
The Coast Guard said in a statement from Honolulu that it respects the sovereignty of its foreign partners and looks forward to future engagement with the Solomon Islands.
Coast Guard Lieutenant Christine Kam told Stars & Stripes that the US State Department has been in contact with the Solomon Islands government following the port call denial and that “all future permits will be provided to US vessels. I hope that,” he said.