By Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.
I had the distinct honor this past week to represent the U.S. Coast Guard during an official visit to the Republic of Korea, hosted by Korea Coast Guard Commissioner General Kim Suk Kyoon. This was my third stop in a series of official visits to strengthen ties with partner maritime governance organizations and learn more about the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region.
Like the U.S. Coast Guard, the Korea Coast Guard protects people on the sea, protects the nation against threats delivered by sea and protects the sea itself. We share common missions and challenges, so through sustained partnership we are able to exchange knowledge and coordinate planning and operations to ensure the safety, security and prosperity of our respective nations.
Protecting people on the sea has always been a primary focus for the KCG, which is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Kim’s ongoing campaign to reduce maritime accidents by 30 percent underscores the KCG’s commitment to maritime safety, and Kim and I discussed the importance of active prevention efforts and capable search and rescue response.
National security relies upon secure borders and the South Korean peninsula, surrounded by the sea, demands a sustained and capable KCG offshore presence to protect their waters. Regionally, the KCG is focused on building networks with other coast guards to better share information on transiting vessels and protect maritime commerce. The KCG is a founding member of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum, which includes the coast guards of Russia, Japan, Canada, China and the U.S., and fosters multi-lateral cooperation to improve maritime governance in the region.
The KCG is increasing its leadership in the Pacific, including enforcement of international conventions to regulate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. This year, the highly-capable KCG Patrol Ship 3012 conducted a northern Pacific Ocean patrol to combat illegal high seas drift net fishing. The KCG was the only maritime governance presence in the northern Pacific during that period.
The KCG is striving to improve proficiency, establishing a new academy to provide core and advanced training in a variety of areas. As I discussed with Kim, the U.S. Coast Guard is ready to assist in sharing our practices and training information and learning from their experiences as well.
I was very impressed with the professionalism and pride of the KCG. They are experienced operators, which I saw firsthand during a harbor patrol of Incheon aboard a KCG hovercraft and tour of KCG Patrol Ship 3008. Many thanks to Commissioner General Kim for his hospitality and happy 60th anniversary to the Korea Coast Guard.