A U.S. Coast Guard vessel was unable to enter the Solomon Islands for a routine port call because the Solomon Islands government failed to respond to a request for refueling and resupply, a U.S. official said .
The islands’ government did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The Solomon Islands have had strained relations with the United States and its allies since the conclusion of a security pact with China in May. USCGC Oliver Henry was on patrol for illegal fishing in the South Pacific for a regional fisheries agency when he failed to gain entry to refuel in Honiara, the capital of the Solomons, told Reuters a US Coast Guard press secretary in an emailed statement.
The US ship was instead diverted to Papua New Guinea, the official said. The British Navy declined to comment on social media reports that the patrol vessel HMS Spey, also taking part in Operation Island Chief to monitor illegal fishing in the economic exclusion zones of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, was denied port access by the Solomon Islands.
“Ships’ programs are constantly under review and it is common practice for them to change. For operational security reasons, we do not discuss details,” a Royal Navy spokesman said in a statement sent by mail. electronic. The Solomons government and Beijing have ruled out a Chinese military base on the islands, although a leaked draft showed the security deal would allow the Chinese navy to dock and replenish.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, a bloc of 17 Pacific nations, has a maritime monitoring center in Honiara and runs annual illegal fishing monitoring operations with the help of Australia, from the United States, New Zealand and France. USCGC Oliver Henry was scheduled to make a routine logistics stop in the Solomon Islands, Kristin Kam, public affairs officer for the US Coast Guard in Hawaii, told Reuters in an emailed statement.
“The Solomon Islands government has not responded to the US government’s request for diplomatic clearance for the vessel to refuel and refuel in Honiara,” she said. “The US State Department is in contact with the Solomon Islands government and expects all future clearances to be provided to US vessels,” she added.
HMS Spey had Fijian naval officers on board as it worked alongside long-range maritime patrol aircraft from Australia and New Zealand and the US Coast Guard on the operation gathering information for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, the Royal Navy said in a statement on Thursday. It carried out inspections of suspicious vessels in ports as well as boardings at sea, according to the statement.
The Royal Navy spokesman said he “looked forward to visiting the Solomon Islands at a later date”.
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