May 11, 2015

The Kaselehlie Press

In the wake of Typhoon Maysak, Australia's support to FSM through the Pacific Patrol Boat program has been crucial in FSM's ability to respond immediately and effectively to all the disaster affected areas.

Through the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, Australia donated three patrol boats to FSM: the FSS PALIKIR and FSS MICRONESIA in 1990, and FSS INDEPENDENCE in 1997.

These PPB vessels are FSM's sovereign capability and have partnered with the FSM National Police in maritime surveillance and enforcement of FSM National Laws in their extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). They also play a key role in other national tasking such as the National Election support in early March, Search and Rescue (SAR) and the recent and continuing disaster relief effort to areas affected by Typhoon Maysak.

Typhoon Maysak hit FSM from 29 March to 1 April causing widespread destruction to properties, infrastructure and crops in Chuuk and the outer islands Ulithi and Fais in Yap.

The patrol boats were immediately deployed through the region to conduct damage assessment and to ensure delivery of urgent items and humanitarian supplies could be provided, along with assessment and medical teams.

Immediately after the passage of the Typhoon, the Government sent FSS INDEPENDENCE to the outer islands of Chuuk and FSS MICRONESIA was sent to Yap's outer islands.

While providing assistance, FSS INDEPENDENCE managed to apprehend four illegal fishing boats in FSM waters. This demonstrates that the flexibility to switch role when circumstances demand can be realized through appropriate training and mentoring, coupled with the dedication of the FSM National Police Maritime Wing officers and sailors.

Both vessels transported also national government officials to assess damages in the affected areas and identified key priorities.

FSS PALIKIR was also deployed to provide assistance to the outer islands of Chuuk and Yap but had to return due to some minor damage and needed minor repairs. The Australian Defence Force Technical Advisor CPO Hamilton assisted the National Police Maritime Wing with the preparation and deployment of the vessels.

The vessels visited isolated islands bringing cases of bottled water and medical supplies.

Alongside Australia's assistance through the Pacific Patrol Boat program, the Australian Government announced on 13 April funding of USD$75,000 to the International Organisation for Migration for humanitarian supplies including shelter materials and tools, hygiene kits and logistical support.

The FSM Government continues to utilize the Pacific Patrol Boats to provide assistance to the affected areas. The Pacific Patrol Boat Program is one of the major contributions of Australia to the

FSM and the most significant contribution Australia has made to their development.