January 18, 2021 – USS Russell (DDG 59) completed an Oceania transit and presence operation Jan. 18 interacting with partners and upholding commitments with the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea.
Russell conducted a brief stop for fuel in Majuro, RMI Jan. 7. After successfully completing their fueling and replenishment at Majuro, Russell conducted a Cooperative Deployment with two FSM National Police Maritime Surveillance Division patrol craft in the vicinity of Pohnpei, FSM. The ship completed its transit through Oceania, rich in fisheries, by patrolling the Compact of Free Association (COFA) states high seas pockets in order to discourage incidence of known illegal, unregulated, unreported (IUU) fishing.
“USS Russell is honored to work with COFA states to foster our enduring partnerships in the region,” said Cmdr. Ryan Rogers, Russell’s commanding officer. “Our operations showed our support to these fine nations in a wonderful region of the world that is rich with naval history.”
The COFA agreement establishes the relationships of free association between the United States and the three Pacific Island sovereign states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
“All nations benefit from free and open access to the seas,” said Capt. Steve McDowell, commodore, Destroyer Squadron Twenty Three. “Together with our allies and partners, we are able to ensure maritime security and adherence to international rules and norms that have allowed all nations to continue to prosper. We’re extremely proud to operate with our COFA partners and to continue to enhance our strong partnership.”
Russell’s transit and operations across Oceania demonstrate the U.S. commitment to upholding its agreement with the COFA states, while also building trust with emerging strategic partners like PNG, in support of advancing international rules and norms of the high seas.
“My crew and I enjoyed the opportunity to conduct a Cooperative Deployment with USS Russell,” said Lt. Cmdr. Paulino Yangitesmal, commanding officer of FSS Palikir. “Even without COVID interrupting our ability to complete at sea training with like-minded partners, it is rare for us to meet up with a warship of this size and capability. We look forward to further opportunities as they become available.”
Russell, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. 7th Fleet forces remain ready to respond to crisis in Oceania, supporting the region in event of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, while supporting COFA commitments.