(Representational Image)

The United States Coast Guard said it will ‘double down’ its presence in Oceania through increased deployment of its assets as a demonstration of its commitment in the region.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, in a telephone conference on July 23, said that it will be deploying multi-mission cutters next month which include the 225-foot buoy tender and a new Fast Response Cutter as part of its “Operation AIGA”, coined after the Samoan word for ‘family.’

A 30-day deployment of their assets was initially planned to provide capabilities to island nations that are fashioned according to their needs.

“With this small footprint, we will deliver variety and convenience to their doorstep, tailored to the needs of each island nation,” Adm. Schultz said.

Schultz said that their increased capacity will allow for more frequent and longer patrols to protect island nations’ Exclusive Economic Zone from threats brought by illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and the increasing drug trafficking.

“Here in Oceania, the Coast Guard is uniquely situated to assist partner nations uphold and assert their own sovereignty, while protecting our national interests.  Many Indo-Pacific nations lack the capacity and capability to fully police their sovereign waters, making them vulnerable to narcotics trafficking, human smuggling, illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, piracy, and terrorist activities,” Schultz said.

Schultz also shared the US Coast Guard’s plan to homeport three Fast Response Cutters in Guam in the next two to three years.

“We broke ground yesterday (July 22) in Guam on what we call the Maintenance Support Building and that building will support these assets operating in the Oceania region,” Schultz said. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)