U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry visits Apia

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry conducted visits to Apia Port in October and November as part of a security partnership operation with Samoa to conduct patrols in Samoa’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).  The Oliver Berry’s visit supports Samoa’s efforts to protect fisheries and other natural resources within its EEZ.

Amidst strong winds and heavy rains brought in by the cyclone season in Samoa, U.S. Embassy Apia Chargé d’Affaires Noriko Horiuchi and Embassy staff met the Oliver Berry when it arrived in port at dawn on October 27.  “The U.S. Coast Guard’s presence in Samoa is rooted in our longstanding partnership and our shared values.  Together, we are dedicated to increasing our capabilities and strengthening maritime governance, security and sovereignty,” said Chargé Horiuchi.

As part of the Oliver Berry’s program in Samoa, the vessel welcomed Samoan ship-riders from the Ministry of Police, Prisons, and Corrections Services and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to join patrols being conducted from October 29 – November 1.  The U.S. Coast Guard supports 11 bilateral law enforcement agreements with Pacific Island Forum nations, including Samoa, to promote their resource security and maritime sovereignty.  Pursuant to those agreements, host government officials actively participate in U.S. Coast Guard patrols.  The ship-rider program allows for expanded information sharing between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Samoan government and highlights the shared U.S.-Samoa commitment to ensuring security and freedom of navigation in the Pacific.

The U.S. Coast Guard crew also conducted partnership engagement and community outreach while at port.  On October 27, the Oliver Berry’s crew hosted tours on board for the Maritime Division of the Ministry of Police, Prisons and Corrections Services; the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure; the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; members of the media; and students from the National University of Samoa Maritime School and St. Mary’s College.

The crew’s community outreach also included a visit to Samoa Victim Support Group at Faleata.  During the visit, the Oliver Berry’s crew donated feminine products, infant and children’s items such as formula and diapers, and educational materials for reading and writing.  The visit concluded with a cultural song and dance from the children at the Campus of Hope.

On October 28, Chargé d’Affaires Noriko Horiuchi and the Oliver Berry’s crew met with students from the National University of Samoa’s Maritime School.  Chargé d’Affaires Horiuchi encouraged students to pursue careers in the maritime field, while U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jeff Bryant offered an overview of the U.S. Coast Guard’s work in ensuring maritime safety and security.  The Maritime School students had the opportunity to meet with the Oliver Berry’s crew in small groups to ask questions and share stories.

Maritime School students also had the opportunity to tour the Oliver Berry.  One student shared that the tour “was my first time on board a military vessel, in the control room and down the engine room.  It was the experience of a lifetime and I will forever thank the Coast Guard for the opportunity.  As a maritime student, the tour and today’s talks really have motivated me to continue to pursue further studies.”

The Oliver Berry’s crew met with maritime personnel from different Government of Samoa ministries and agencies.  The respective teams discussed best practices and tactical techniques for ensuring that Samoa’s waters and maritime resources continue to be secure.

The Oliver Berry’s crew’s October outreach concluded on October 28 with a friendly football match against the French Navy La Glorieuse’s crew.

Following patrols of Samoa’s EEZ from October 29 – November 1, the Oliver Berry returned to Samoa on the morning of November 1 to return the Samoan ship-riders to port.  The Oliver Berry’s crew hosted a beach clean-up with participants from U.S. Embassy Apia, Peace Corps Samoa, and the Samoa Tourism Authority along the seawall and beach road from the STA Fale towards the Vaisigano Beach, emphasizing the message “keep our ocean clean, it is our shared responsibility.”

“Going out and meeting new people whenever we moor is always the highlight of our visits.  The past two days were a great exchange between the crew and members of different maritime divisions in Samoa.  The Coast Guard presence in the Blue Pacific highlights our strong security partnerships in the region, but it is also an opportunity to make personal connections in each host nation.  We are excited about the revitalization of our longstanding relationship with Samoa,” said Commander Jeff Bryant, Chief of Enforcement for Coast Guard District 14.

The Oliver Berry departed Samoa on the morning of November 3, setting sail for its next port call in a neighboring Pacific Island.