August 05, 2009

By US Embassy, Kolonia
The Kaselehlie Press

On July 19th, United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen arrived for a three-day visit of Pohnpei. His tour included meetings with U.S. Embassy Officials, FSM President Emanuel Mori, members of FSM Congress, Australian Embassy Officials, and the Australian Navy Advisors to the FSM Maritime Surveillance.

On Monday morning, Admiral Allen met with United States Department of State and Agriculture Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia for a country profile briefing. The Commandant then departed for Palikir where he made an office call on FSM President Emanuel Mori.

Joining the President were Department of Justice Secretary Maketo Robert, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Lorin Robert, Department of Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure Secretary Francis Itimai, Department of Resources and Development Secretary Peter M. Christian, and Department of Education Secretary Casiano Shoniber. Also in attendance were National Oceanic and Resources Management Authority Executive Director Bernard Thoulag, Office of Statistics, Budget, Overseas Development Assistance and Compact Management Director Fabian Nimea, and Office of Environment and Emergency Management Director Andrew Yatilman.

Both Secretary of Justice Robert and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Robert stressed the need for the pooling of resources at the state, national, and international levels to effectively patrol the region's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). When disaster relief coordination was discussed, the Commandant explained the Coast Guard's eagerness to collaborate with both the FSM and the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on search and rescue challenges.

The Commandant next departed for the FSM Congress, where he met several members of the Legislature. Leading the meeting was Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Senator Dohsis Halbert of Pohnpei; he was accompanied by Senator Peter Sitan of Chuuk and Legislative Counsel Lam Dang. The Commandant's discussion with the congressional delegation focused on the need for sustainability, both in revenue and in the FSM's maritime surveillance program. In addition to utilizing funds from the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund (SPINF), Admiral Allen proposed that the delegation have a regional meeting to bring together the organizations involved with maritime issues.

In the afternoon, the Commandant headed for the FSM Maritime Wing in Dekehtik. Admiral Allen watched a powerpoint presentation on the Australian Patrol Boat Program and participated in a roundtable discussion on maritime law enforcement.

The Commandant also met with FSM National Police Chief Pius Chotailug, head of the FSM Maritime Wing. Following the roundtable discussion, Admiral Allen toured the patrol boats and, despite foul weather, took a boat ride to survey fishing transport vessels anchored inside the reef. In honor of the Admiral's visit, the FSM Government hosted a cocktail reception at Ocean View Restaurant. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert thanked the Commandant for incorporating Micronesia into his Asian tour, and for the Coast Guard's assistance in policing the FSM's waters. With translation assistance, Admiral Allen stressed that the only way to conduct successful maritime surveillance is ehupene; that is, the United States and Micronesia must work together to preserve and protect our planet's precious marine resources.

Admiral Thad W. Allen became the 23rd Commandant of the United States Coast Guard on May 25, 2006. He is the only four-star Admiral of the Coast Guard, and is responsible for the largest force in the United States Department of Homeland Security. Before his arrival in Pohnpei, Admiral Allen visited China and New Zealand.