SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) – An increased US Coast Guard presence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) will help to enforce the sovereignty of partner nations along the disputed waters, US Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Vice Admiral Linda Fagan said during a press call Tuesday morning (June 11).
US Coast Guard vessels Bertholf and Stratton have been deployed to enhance “law enforcement and capacity building in the fisheries enforcement realm,” Vice Adm Fagan said.
This comes amid complaints from island nations of overfishing and dredging in the waterway, particularly by China.
The US has recently turned to its coast guard to make its presence felt in the South China Sea. Last month, it staged a joint exercise with two Philippine coast guard vessels in Chinese-claimed waters, reportedly sailing past two Chinese vessels in the process.
It’s the first visit by the US Coast Guard in seven years, Vice Adm Fagan said, noting the return to engagement was in line with prior actions and consistent with international law.
“It is a recognised international strait and our ships sail through there,” Vice Adm Fagan said.