TPWD, FWC, and other state agencies conduct fisheries patrols up to the limit of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). “So the more we work with partners, the more we can do,” said DuPont.
Coast Guard Expertise
“We have many bilateral ‘Shiprider’ agreements, where we can help our partners with those enforcement duties, whether it’s smuggling or fisheries enforcement,” Kelly said.
The Coast Guard has law enforcement detachments (LEDETs) that deploy aboard U.S. Navy ships to provide them with the right people with the right authorities to enforce laws at sea.
The U.S. Navy has three 179-foot coastal patrol boats (PCs) stationed at Mayport, Florida, which deploy to the Caribbean to support the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South, working alongside the Coast Guard. Coast Guard LEDETS will come aboard to enable prosecutions.
“They are experts in interactions with the local fishing boats and dhows that are trading in the Gulf. When we talk about our interactions with the Iranians, they know just how to do their business out there. Our crews live here and they’re out interacting with them on a practically daily basis.”
“The Mayport PCs work with us on a regular basis,” said Kelly, whose previous duty station was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “We kind of consider them part of the family.”
Another region where the Navy and Coast Guard work together is in the Middle East.
In the Arabian Gulf, the U.S. Fifth Fleet has a Bahrain home-ported force of 10 PCs and six Coast Guard 110-foot patrol boats (WPBs). “They’re super capable,” said Navy Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, deputy commander of Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet. “We keep all those ships really busy.”
According to Schlise, these smaller combatants have an outsized mission in the region. “They are experts in interactions with the local fishing boats and dhows that are trading in the Gulf. When we talk about our interactions with the Iranians, they know just how to do their business out there. Our crews live here and they’re out interacting with them on a practically daily basis.”
The WPBs are part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, which also includes the Coast Guard Maritime Engagement Team and the Maritime Security Response Team. The Coast Guard law enforcement professionals share their expertise in boardings, inspections, and interdictions with their Navy counterparts and even partner nations, who are eager to receive the training.
“They are professional boarding officers,” said Capt. Pete Mirisola, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron 50 and CTF (Combined Task Force) 55. “They come with all of their law enforcement authorities behind them, and they are capable of conducting VBSS [visit, board, search, and seizure] operations up to opposed boardings; and they are capable of surface infiltration and extraction, using hooking and climbing ladders, as well as fast-
roping out of helicopters, so they can also do vertical insertion and extraction. So, it’s a very high-end capability that we have here in theater, at the fleet commander’s disposal.”
“We’ve got great Coast Guard expertise here for VBSS training,” Schlise said. “Ships’ boarding teams are able to practice boarding with a real dhow maintained in a warehouse, which they refer to as the ‘boat in a box.’ Whatever VBSS skills our Navy crews have received through their training pipeline, this Coast Guard-led training makes them better. This training pays off.”
The Coast Guard, with its vast missions and law enforcement expertise, can do a lot of things, but not always by itself. The best defense – or offense – is one that is integrated and utilizing all the tools in the box. Local, state and federal partners all have tools to bring to the game, and if trained together, they can work together to preserve and protect our maritime domain.