US deliberating forward deployment of coast guard cutters in American Samoa

USCGC Oliver Henry, a Sentinel-class fast response cutter of the US Coast Guard (Photo: Bollinger Shipyards)

US National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien has confirmed that the US Coast Guard plans to evaluate the feasibility of basing some of its Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRCs) in American Samoa beginning in fiscal year 2021 to bolster the service’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The proposal comes after reports confirmed that China has been increasing its illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in the region and has even resorted to harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other countries in the Indo-Pacific.

In a recent statement, Mr O’Brien said China’s IUU fishing “endangers regional stability” and threatens US sovereignty as well as the sovereignty of its Pacific neighbours.

Mr O’Brien added that the efforts by the coast guard are “critical to countering these destabilizing and malign actions” by China, hence the need to expand its presence in the region.

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