A total of four boarding of fishing boats were made by members of the US Coast Guard aboard the US Navy amphibious vessel USS Rushmore in the last four days when the vessel was performing surveillance task in Vanuatu’s Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ) against illegal fishing activities.
The USS Rushmore’s commanding officer, Captain John W. Ryan, told journalists visiting the 16,000 ton vessel when it was in Port Vila harbor Friday that the boarding of the fishing boats were carried out with the help of a Corporal of the Maritime Wing of the Vanuatu Mobile Force.
He said the corporal who joined the USS Rushmore in American Samoa help the US Coast Guard crew with the decisions to board the fishing boats and these included checking vessel registration.
Captain Ryan said the surveillance of Vanuatu’s EEZ comes under the cooperation agreement between the Governments of Vanuatu and the United States of America for US assistance to patrol the waters of Vanuatu against and check illegal fishing activities.
He said they did not see any of the notorious “blue boats” that have been caught fishing illegally in the waters of a number of Pacific island countries.
The USS Rushmore said directly from its home base in San Diego, California, making three fuel stops on the way, before entering Vanuatu waters and carrying out the patrol. Bad weather in the last couple of days forced the vessel to come into Port Vila harbor after which it will continue on with its surveillance work.
The journalists were honored to be taken on a guided tour of the USS Rushmore during their hour-long visit to the ship.
The Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, and dignitaries of government, the diplomatic corps and the private sector also visited the vessel.