Following a 90-day deployment, the US Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley returned to Kodiak on August 1, patrolling more than 18,000 nautical miles throughout the Pacific Ocean, including transits through the Aleutian Islands, Tokyo Bay and the Sea of Japan.
Alex Haley’s crew departed its homeport on May 3 and transited to Yokohama, Japan, for joint operations with members of the Japanese coast guard which celebrated its 70th anniversary.
In the Japanese waters, there was an official parade of ships featuring 30 vessels sailing in close formation. Participating assets ranged from high-endurance cutters to small patrol vessels and featured overflights from helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The Alex Haley was the only foreign ship invited to participate in the parade.
Following her visit to Japan, Alex Haley deployed in support of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum, a multi-national effort where the United States partners with Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the Republic of Korea to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity.
During the fisheries enforcement patrol, Alex Haley crewmembers and officers from the Chinese coast guard conducted a joint international boarding on June 16 of the Chinese-flagged fishing vessel Run Da suspected of violating the worldwide driftnet moratorium.
The captain of the Run Da admitted to fishing with driftnets up to 5.6 miles in length. The joint boarding team discovered one ton of squid and 80 tons of chum salmon on board.
The joint US and China high seas boarding and inspection operation was conducted pursuant to the memorandum of understanding between the two governments. The MOU, signed in December 1993, established boarding procedures for law enforcement officials of either country to board and inspect US or Chinese-flagged vessels suspected of high seas driftnet fishing. The MOU also established a shiprider program, which permits Chinese fisheries enforcement officials to embark on US Coast Guard vessels or aircraft.
Alex Haley crew members assisted with the vessel detention and escorted the vessel to the Sea of Japan, where vessel custody was transferred to the Chinese coast guard for adjudication.
China has provided 111 enforcement officials to the US Coast Guard for joint fisheries enforcement operations since the MOU first entered into force. This cooperation has led to 22 interdictions and enforcement actions against vessels engaged in large-scale, high seas driftnet fishing activity.
“The success of this patrol, from the parade of ships to the capture of the Run Da, from sailing to Japan, Hawaii, and back, is all a testament to the strength and character of the crew aboard the Alex Haley,” Cmdr. Jon Kreischer, Alex Haley’s commanding officer, commented.
The Alex Haley is a 282-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Kodiak, with a crew of 105 personnel. The crew aboard the Alex Haley conduct homeland security, search and rescue, and international and domestic fisheries enforcement missions in the Bering Sea and other Alaskan waters.