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Coast Guard Diplomacy Spans From Hollywood to the Indian Ocean

The U.S. Coast Guard is involved with a dozen partners in the Pacific basin and enforces maritime law as a means to make the area more secure for all countries.

The Pacific Area of the U.S. Coast Guard is tasked with covering waters from the West Coast to the Indian Ocean as law enforcement and also as an arm of cooperation. 

"‘You were here when we needed you most.’ These were the words of President David Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Tiongson, USCG, commander, Pacific Area and Defense Force West. 

Adm. Tiongson quoted an officer under his command after his force delivered aid in the wake of a major disaster. 

During his keynote at West 2023, Adm. Tiongson described the Coast Guard as a global service that teams with local maritime law enforcement services in the Indo-Pacific to uphold the rule of law. 

“Good maritime governance begets adherence to rules-based order,” Adm. Tiongson said and added that the United States has 11 bilateral law enforcement agreements with countries in the Pacific basin. 

















In some cases, Coast Guard personnel sail aboard partner vessels or conduct joint patrols. In other cases, these agreements include information sharing and training. In the case of Micronesia, cutters have direct law enforcement responsibilities, and the country allows the service to intervene and uphold the rule of law in their territorial waters. 

These activities enforce laws against smuggling, trafficking and illegal fishing. 

The admiral said that in one specific action in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, a Panamanian-flagged Hong Kong-owned vessel was fishing illegally. A Coast Guard cutter tried to board it and the ship maneuvered to evade in a hostile manner. 










Vice Adm. Andrew Tiongson headshot at WEST
We don’t target an individual nation. We target malign activity, malign behavior.
Vice Adm. Andrew Tiongson, USCG
Commander, Pacific Area and Defense Force West


While this specific fisher was not detained that day, it was fined $300,000 by the Panama government, which also deflagged 157 Chinese ships connected to illegal fishing, Adm. Tiongson said. 

The officer was clear that his services’ actions do not target a specific country. 

“We don’t target an individual nation. We target malign activity, malign behavior,” Adm. Tiongson said. As an example, he offered that his vessels also discovered that ships from Taiwan were involved in illegal fishing elsewhere.