A US Coast Guard vessel was unable to enter Solomon Islands for a routine port call because its government did not respond to a request for refueling and supplies, a US official said.
The Solomon government did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Its relationship with the United States and its allies has been tense since a security agreement was concluded with it China in May.
USCGC Oliver Henry was on a patrol poaching in the South Pacific for the Regional Fisheries Agency when it failed to gain entry to refuel in Honiara, the capital of Solomon, a US Coast Guard press official said in an emailed statement.
The official said the ship was diverted to Papua New Guinea instead.
The British Navy declined to comment on social media reports that the patrol ship HMS Spey – which is also involved in monitoring illegal fishing in economic exclusion zones in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – was not in close proximity.
“Ship programs are under constant review and it is routine practice to change,” a Royal Navy spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “For operational security reasons, we are not discussing details.”
The Solomon government and Beijing have ruled out a Chinese military base on the islands, although a leaked draft showed that the security pact would allow the Chinese navy to dock and renew it.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, a bloc of 17 Pacific nations, has a marine monitoring center in Honiara, and conducts annual poaching observations with the help of Australia, the United States, New Zealand and France.
Kristen Kamm, US Coast Guard public affairs officer for Hawaii, said the HMS Oliver Henry was scheduled to make a routine logistics port call in the Solomon Islands.
“The Solomon Islands government has not responded to the US government’s request for diplomatic permission for the vessel to refuel and resupply in Honiara,” it said in a statement.
“The U.S. Department of State is in contact with the Solomon Islands government and expects to provide all future authorizations for U.S. ships.”
The Royal Navy said in a statement that HMS Spy had officers from the Fijian Navy on board as it worked alongside long-range maritime patrol aircraft from Australia and New Zealand and the US Coast Guard in an information-gathering operation for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. Thursday.
It added that it carried out inspections of suspicious ships in the ports, as well as inspections at sea.
A Royal Navy spokesperson said it “looks forward to visiting the Solomon Islands at a later date”.
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