U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Denied Resupply Port Call By Solomon Islands
GUADALCANAL, SOLOMON ISLANDS - After completing an international patrol mission on August 26th, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, Oliver Henry, was denied clearance for a pre-scheduled resupply port call from the Solomon Islands, a country that has been strengthening ties in the Pacific with China.
According to AP News, there has been no official response from the Solomon Islands government, as to why the refuel and resupply port call was denied. The ship Oliver Henry was sent to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea to conduct its port call there.
The U.S. Coast Guard has officially stated that the Oliver Henry has arrived in Port Moresby, after conducting patrols in the Coral Sea and around the Solomon Islands, without disclosing the incident at Guadalcanal.
The mission, Operation Island Chief, was an illegal fishing monitoring mission that was being conducted in the Pacific.
The official statement as recorded by Stars and Stripes was stated by Lt. Kristin Kam, 14th Coast Guard District in Honolulu:
"The Government of the Solomon Islands did not respond to the U.S. Government's request for diplomatic clearance for the vessel to refuel and provision in Honiara,... Accordingly, CGC Oliver Henry diverted to Papua New Guinea to refuel and provision."
The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom did not directly comment regarding its ship, the HMS Spey, which was also part of the mission Operation Island Chief, and it also was denied a port call at Guadalcanal.
According to the Associated Press, The Royal Navy made a statement via email which read:
"Ships' programs are under constant review, and it is routine practice for them to change,... For reasons of operational security, we do not discuss details. The Royal Navy looks forward to visiting the Solomon Islands at a later date..."
Operation Island Chief was a multi-national operation consisting of air and sea forces from Australia, Britain, The United States, and New Zealand, as well as the Solomon Islands.
Marsha Blackburn, United States Senator from Tennessee, went on a pacific tour, visiting the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, which she said "was an important step in showcasing America's commitment to the region and expanding our strategic relationships." She did meet with the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, but it wasn't stated if she discussed the incident regarding the denied port call.
China, a country determined to expand and assert its influence in the Pacific, signed a new security agreement with the Solomon Islands back in April 2022, leaving international concerns about a Chinese naval presence in strategic and important waters which would allow for a Chinese naval base to be placed 1,200 miles from the Australian coast, close to the New Zealand coast, and within reach of U.S. military installations in Guam, according to the Council on Foreign Relations and AP News.
Both China and the Solomon Islands have denied the allegations of promoting Chinese dominance in the South Pacific, in regard to the security agreement.
In another incident, that was seen as a snub, Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, did not attend this year's anniversary memorial service for the Battle of Guadalcanal, a critical point in World War II where allied forces took control of the islands from Japan.
Wendy Sherman, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, whose father was wounded at the Battle of Guadalcanal and was in attendance at the ceremony, stated that Sogavare "missed an important opportunity" by not attending.
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