CAIRNS, Australia – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) and crew arrived in Cairns, Australia, March 7th, marking the midway point of the cutter’s inaugural Operation Blue Pacific patrol, which strengthens the U.S. Coast Guard’s relations with partners in Oceania.

Harriet Lane and crew departed Pearl Harbor in January 2024 for Operation Blue Pacific and have since traveled more than 8,600 nautical miles with port calls in American Samoa, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and Australia, working alongside partner nations in Oceania. Operation Blue Pacific has allowed the Harriet Lane crew to work alongside partners with each nation’s unique expertise enhancing maritime governance architectures. The U.S. Coast Guard, using assets like Harriet Lane, will continue to serve allies and partners by engaging with local technical experts for exchanges, joint patrols, and bolstering capacity thus promoting a model of stability in the maritime environment.

Notable activities while assisting partner nations included 23 boardings of vessels fishing in exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Through bilateral law enforcement agreements, the U.S. Coast Guard is able to provide opportunity and capability for partner nations to enforce their laws. The embarked shiprider makes the determination of which vessels to board within their EEZ and identifies whether a violation has occurred. These operations are focused on increasing our partner nations’ capabilities and maritime domain awareness while promoting sovereignty to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“Having shipriders aboard from the Pacific Island countries has proved to be invaluable,” said Lt. Channing Meyer, Harriet Lane operations officer and Operation Blue Pacific lead planner. “We are working alongside our partners in the Oceania region to ensure those countries are upholding their maritime sovereignty and those fishing in their EEZs are upholding maritime rules.”

During Harriet Lane’s port calls, the crew participated in numerous engagements with local communities in the region, which included subject matter exchanges, school visits and several tours of Harriet Lane with partner nations’ fisheries departments and marine police officers.

“I am incredibly proud of what the crew has accomplished thus far,” said Cmdr. Nicole Tesoniero, commanding officer of Harriet Lane. “Harriet Lane’s continued presence in the Pacific is a testament to our decades long support and adaptability to the evolving needs of our regional partners. We’re not just operating in the region; we’re integrating our efforts with the aspirations and needs of those we serve alongside. We are excited to host Australian Border Force shipriders on Harriet Lane as this will expand our knowledge base as we continue to strengthen these critical partnerships.”

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers embarked on Harriet Lane for the Vanuatu to Australia leg and the Australia to Papua New Guinea leg, from early to mid-March.

“The shiprider program promotes cooperation and information sharing between the two agencies and demonstrates a commitment to maritime security in the region,” said Deputy Commander Maritime Border Command, ABF Commander Neil Horne. “The Pacific faces an increasingly intricate and interconnected series of maritime threats, including Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), people smuggling and human trafficking, and other Transnational Serious Organized Crime.”

“A collaborative approach to civil maritime security is essential to tackle these threats,” said Horne. “Our partnerships in the region are often the first line of defense in the Pacific maritime zones, which are a critical resource for economic growth, prosperity and national identity.”