US, Japan coast guards expand cooperation, establish new operation Sapphire

The US and Japan coast guards have formally expanded cooperative agreements and established a new perpetual operation during a ceremony in Tokyo.


On Wednesday (18 May), Vice Adm. Michael McAllister, commander of US Coast Guard Pacific Area, and Vice Adm. Yoshio Seguchi, Japan Coast Guard vice commandant for operations, were part of a “historic document signing ceremony” at Japan Coast Guard Headquarters.

Photo: USCG

Although a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services has existed since 2010, strengthened relationships, increasing bilateral engagements and continued focus on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific necessitated the expansion of the memorandum.

The new operation’s name, SAPPHIRE, is an acronym for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule of law based Engagement

The operation encompasses all the annual interactions between the Japan and US coast guards, with the goal of increasing interactions over time.

To formalize the expanded cooperation, annexes were added to the existing memorandum of cooperation outlining Operation Sapphire to include standard operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing.

“We will conduct smooth cooperation in the fields of joint operation, capacity building and information sharing by this agreement,” said Seguchi.

“Sapphire embodies the rule-of-law based engagement between the coast guards, and we will expand the principle of Free and Open Indo-Pacific to other nations.”

Meanwhile, ships from the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (RRNCSG) conducted a week of at-sea bilateral training with a destroyer from Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

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