US, Japan coast guards conduct counter-narcotics exercise in Pacific

The US Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard completed a joint counter-narcotics exercise off Guam on Tuesday (7 June).

US Coast Guard

The exercise was conducted between the crews of the Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel Mizuho, US Coast Guard cutter Oliver Henry, and US Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. 

Source: US Coast Guard

On Monday, the participants met at Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam for tours of the participating vessels and tabletop discussions to plan the at-sea exercise the next day. 

“Conducting exercises based on real-world scenarios will boost opportunities to respond more effectively,” said Lt. Jack Hamel, the commanding officer of the Oliver Henry. 

The crews then deployed for the at-sea exercise consisting of two counter-narcotics drills where the teams simulated locating and boarding a target of interest fishing vessel suspected of drug smuggling. 

According to the coast guard officials, the drills focused on methods of information sharing, vessel tracking, stopping measures, and inspection procedures for greater interoperability between the partners in the future. 

Source: US Coast Guard

The two coast guards also conducted a personnel exchange and rendered passing honors between the vessels. 

The exercise was a part of the Japan Coast Guard and US Coast Guard Operation Sapphire 2022. It was the second such operation held between the coast guards, the first being held in San Francisco in May. 

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Sapphire was created during a joint document signing ceremony and celebration at Japan Coast Guard headquarters in May and was an annex to a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services which has existed since 2010. 

The purpose of Operation Sapphire is to standardize operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing between the partners, the officials concluded.