April 4, 2011

By FSM Information Services & Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

March 25, 2011 Dekehtik, Pohnpei-On March 24, 2011 President Mori joined the new Australian Ambassador Martin Quinn at the FSM Maritime Wing facilities in Dekehtik, Pohnpei to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the arrival of the first Pacific Patrol Boat in FSM, the FSS Palikir. The FSM National police from the Maritime wing and the crew of the FSS Palikir paraded in front of the dignitaries and crowd, to the sound of a bagpipe and drums. The FSS Palikir was draped in flags and decorated grandly for the event.

During his speech, President Mori expressed the deep appreciation and gratitude of the FSM government and its people for Australia's contribution of the three patrol boats that FSM utilizes for surveillance, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and research missions. He also expressed appreciation to the FSM Congress for the funding it has provided in the past to keep the boats running, and to the crew of the boats for their hard work. He challenged the present members of Congress to continue to respond positively to budget request for the operation of those vessels for the protection of the FSM EEZ.

Ambassador Quinn's remarks focused on the level of cooperation that exists between the two countries and the presence of Australian advisors with the Maritime police to ensure that the program runs smoothly. Ambassador Quinn said during his speech that the Pacific Patrol Boat program has been one of the most successful bilateral programs Australia has had with the Federated States of Micronesia, and that it stands as a symbol of our good relations and friendship.

Former President John Haglelgam who was the sitting President of the FSM when the FSS Palikir arrived in the FSM and who was instrumental in negotiating for the program also spoke during the ceremony. He spoke about how it was that the boats came to the FSM and what fisheries enforcement in the FSM was like previous to that point.

Haglelgam said that prior to the arrival of the FSS Palikir, 21 years ago, FSM Marine Surveillance officers were operating from a sailing vessel. He asked the captain of that vessel how a sailing vessel could keep up with the high tech motor driven vessels. He said that the captain told him that they would attach themselves to a long line or to a net and when the fishing vessel pulled in their lines they brought them alongside as well as an extra added surprise.

Though there is still a long way to go for truly effective marine surveillance in the FSM, the Australian Government and the presence of the members of the Royal Australian Navy who have served as advisors has helped to bring FSM EEZ law enforcement out of the dark ages.

Haglelgam said that even though the boats are 21 years old, they still look like they did when they arrived 21 years ago. He should know. He was there.

After the speeches, Frederico Primo, Vice Speaker of the FSM's 16th Congress was invited to cut the cake prepared for the event and was handed a ceremonial saber to accomplish the task much to the crowd's delight. Afterwards a buffet table was opened for the dignitaries, sailors and their families to enjoy.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was former President Urusemal, members of the diplomatic corps and other members of the FSM Cabinet and FSM National Police force.