The USS Mobile, a 418-foot Navy littoral combat ship, began a joint patrol in the Western Pacific Ocean March 20 to combat illegal fishing and maritime crime, according to Navy officials.
Homeported at San Diego, Calif., as part of the Navy’s Third Fleet, the Mobile carries a Coast Guard team to conduct maritime law enforcement, as part of the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative.
“OMSI is imperative to ensure that the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Convention (WCPFC) agreement is upheld within the Indo-Pacific region,” said Cmdr. Richard Skinnell, the Mobile’s commanding officer. “This initiative allows us the opportunity to work jointly with other branches of the military as well as our allies and partners.”
OMSI “improves maritime security and domain awareness by enabling Coast Guard law enforcement personnel to conduct maritime law enforcement operations from Navy ships,” according to a Navy statement. “These joint and combined operations ensure the U.S. military honors its security commitments to allies, partners, and friends.”
The Navy and Coast Guard have stepped up joint operations with Pacific island nations at a time of increasing tension and competition with China, which has sought its own new maritime footholds and cooperative efforts in the region.
“Collaborating with our partners throughout Oceania is essential in ensuring a free and open Blue Pacific,” said Cmdr. Jeff Bryant, chief of enforcement with the 14th Coast Guard District. “It is a privilege and we are proud to support the Federated States of Micronesia through dedicated partnership in the effort to maintain maritime governance and preserve maritime sovereignty.”
The WCPFC international fisheries agreement prioritizes the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is always ready and looking forward to executing the OMSI mission alongside our U.S. Navy partners,” said Bryant.
The Mobile carries an embarked Coast Guard law enforcement detachment from the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, to support maritime law with partner nations, enforcing the WCPFC agreement and by suppressing illicit activities.
The Mobile is an Independence-variant LCS, which the Navy calls “the platform of choice for this mission due to its fast and agile maneuvering capabilities, large flight deck with manned and unmanned aviation assets and surface warfare mission set.”