U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) concluded its participation in the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) and returned to its homeport of Everett, Washington, on December 23.
During the two-month underway, Sampson became the first U.S. warship to visit New Zealand in 33 years.
At the request of the New Zealand government, Sampson assisted the nation with relief efforts to the south island of Kaikoura, after a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck, November 14.
“While viewing sobering images of widespread infrastructural damage in Kaikoura, I was also reminded and encouraged by the sight of my Sailors going ashore with an unwavering can-do spirit that assures me we are doing our part in supporting the New Zealand forces,” said Cmdr. Tim LaBenz, commanding officer of Sampson.
Sampson then participated in OMSI taskings in the Western Pacific with embarked U.S. Coast Guard personnel.
Partnership between the coast guard and navy supports OMSI, a secretary of defense program leveraging department of defense assets transiting the region to increase the coast guard’s maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting its maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.
An embarked law enforcement detachment from U.S. Coast Guard tactical law enforcement team pacific worked with Sampson’s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team and embarked air detachment from helicopter maritime strike squadron (HSM) 73 throughout the OMSI tasking.
The boarding teams inspected documentation and fish holds for illegal activity and verification of compliance with conservation and management measures. Coast guard law enforcement teams and Pacific island nation ship riders routinely conduct joint boardings within the host country’s exclusive economic zones to protect the ocean and living marine resources within.
Sampson culminated its assignment by participating in community service events in Honiara, Solomon Islands, December 7 and conducting a ceremony at the island’s Guadalcanal memorial.
Sampson and Coast Guard personnel also paid their respects at the memorial of USCG signalman 1st class Douglas P. Munro, the branch’s sole Medal of Honor recipient.