A United States Coast Guard cutter homeported in Kodiak returned to the city Wednesday.
The 282-foot Alex Haley was on a 90-day mission to scout the Pacific Ocean for illegal fishing boats and fishing operations.
According to a Coast Guard press release, the Alex Haley carried a crew of more than a 100 personnel and partnered with Canadian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and South Korean forces in its patrol, called the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.
It traveled 18,000 nautical miles through the Aleutian Islands, Tokyo Bay and the Sea of Japan under its commander, Jon Kreischer.
During that time, says Kreischer, they boarded 10 vessels, all of which were Chinese, Japanese, or Taiwanese, but he says only one qualified as having significantly violated international agreements: the Chinese vessel, Run Da.
He says it was targeting salmon with unregulated net sizes outside the permitted jurisdiction.
“The master, not surprising on a vessel that would be a derelict or a black operator, this was his first time captaining a vessel. It was probably difficult to get a legitimate captain to want to go out to sea on this vessel, but this particular individual was willing to take the risk and probably willing to hopefully accept the reward, which would have been cash, for the fish.”
According to the Coast Guard, they found one ton of squid and 80 tons of chum salmon on board the vessel.
Kreischer says they escorted the Run Da into the Sea of Japan and then turned it over to the Chinese Coast Guard.
Kreischer says different Coast Guard cutters conduct the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum every year. He says this is the longest such patrol his crew had conducted.
“This is an exciting trip for everyone assigned to the Alex Haley. For most of us, it was our first time in Japan. The trip also had aspects that went to Hawaii, so we pulled into Honolulu, and so it was wonderful port call opportunities and [a] once in a lifetime adventure and trip for most of us.”
Kreischer says, next year, the Coast Guard Cutter Monroe will participate in the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.
Kreischer says the Alex Haley will be in Kodiak until the fall for crew rest, time with families, and vessel repair. He says the next patrol will be more typical and probably based in Alaska.