The deployment follows the Pentagon’s release of a new ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy Report’ outlining the Us military’s plans to curb “malign actors” China and Russia in the region via a combination of military tools and a web of alliances.
The US Coast Guard has deployed two cutter vessels, the USCGC Bertholf and the USCGC Stratton, with the US Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan to help challenge China’s claims over wide swaths of the South China Sea, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander Vice-Admiral Linda Fagan has said.
Speaking at a press call on Tuesday morning, Fagan indicated that the vessels were being sent to the region to assist with “law enforcement and capacity-building in the fisheries enforcement realm.”
Earlier this year, the USCGC Bertholf took part in one of the US Navy’s regular demonstrative transit sails through the Taiwan Strait in March, with China criticising that effort and saying it served only to strain China-US relations.
Last month, the Bertholf also joined two Philippine coast guard vessels for “maritime security” training operations in the South China Sea, with the drills taking place near a shoal area contested by both Beijing and Manila.
According to Vice-Admiral Fagan, the Coast Guard’s mission in the region is to support its local partners. “We are very much interested in engaging with partner nations in using our authorities and capacity building in a way that is helpful,” she stressed.