COAST guard instructors from the United States, Philippines, and Japan jointly led a Multinational Vessel Boarding Officer Course in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan from May 15 to 26, 2023 to strengthen the maritime law enforcement capabilities of more than 30 participants from Southeast Asia.

Jointly conducted by the US Coast Guard (USCG) Mobile Training Branch, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Mobile Cooperation Team and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the course trained participants on the basics of boarding vessels for at-sea law enforcement.

It was made possible through P4.1 million ($75,000) in funding provided by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs under its new Southeast Asia Training Team Program.

Through the course, 33 participants from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency, Thailand’s Maritime Enforcement Command Center, and Vietnam’s Department of Fisheries enhanced their knowledge on the law of the sea and policy on the use of force.

They also participated in practical exercises focused on self-defense tactics and vessel search procedures.

“The Boarding Officer Course stands as a cornerstone in our relentless pursuit of maritime security. It equips us, alongside our esteemed multinational participants, with indispensable knowledge, skills, and unwavering ethical principles while fostering cooperation and camaraderie with our international counterparts,” PCG instructor Ensign Gilbert Alberto Rueras said at the culminating exercise on May 25.

“Through this transformative experience, we are able to fortify our capabilities, ensuring the safety, prosperity, and shared interests of our maritime domain,” he added.

“It has been an outstanding collaboration bringing all these countries and agencies together. It is most fulfilling to see the students forming bonds and partnering during the boarding exercises,” USCG instructor Senior Chief Kenneth Christian said.

The USCG and JCG have been conducting joint maritime trainings for the PCG since April 2022. This course marks their first training event conducted for a multinational audience with the PCG as a co-host.

To further strengthen trilateral maritime cooperation, the USCG, PCG, and JCG will continue to carry out other collaborative training events on maritime law enforcement, patrol vessel operations, and maintenance procedures. (PR)