It is reported today by ABC News in Australia that a US Coast Guard vessel, USCGCV Oliver Henry, was unable to enter the Solomon Islands for a routine port call because the local government did not respond to a request for it to refuel and provision, according to a US official.
The US Coast Guard says the ship was unable to make a scheduled routine port call at Honiara
Solomon Islands has had a tense relationship with the US and its allies since its recent security pact with China was announced
The USCGC Oliver Henry was on patrol for illegal fishing in the South Pacific when it failed to obtain entry to refuel at Honiara, the Solomon Islands capital, the official from the US Coast Guard said.
The US vessel was diverted to Papua New Guinea instead.
It was scheduled for a routine logistics port call at Solomon Islands, according to a public affairs officer for the US Coast Guard in Hawaii.
"The Government of the Solomon Islands did not respond to the US Government's request for diplomatic clearance for the vessel to refuel and provision in Honiara," they said.
"The US Department of State is in contact with the Government of the Solomon Islands and expects all future clearances will be provided to US ships."
The fisheries agency for the Pacific Islands Forum, a bloc of 17 Pacific nations, has a maritime surveillance centre in Honiara and holds annual surveillance operations for illegal fishing with assistance from Australia, the United States, New Zealand and France.
I believe one should await an explanation from the SIG about the US Coast Guard vessel not having received entry clearance for refueling rather than exacerbating the incident and linking the incident to allegedly (quote) “Solomon Islands has had a tense relationship with the US and its allies since its recent security pact with China was announced.”
Recently, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister reportedly said,
"ABC or other foreign media must understand that the manner in which journalists are allowed conduct themselves in other [countries] does not give them the right to operate in the same manner in the Pacific," it reads.
"The Pacific is not the same as Australia or United States. When you chose to come to our Pacific Islands, be respectful, be courteous and accord the appropriate protocols.
"Such organisations or journalists who possess such qualities will not be allowed to enter Solomon Islands and other Pacific Islands nations."
I reportedly extensively how two foreign based journalists (one from New Zealand and the other a female representing the Australian newspaper), although she was married at the time to a Solomon Islanders, filed reports that were false and tantamount to defamation at the time I led the Solomon Islands Police Force in 1999, reports that I quoted in my book ‘Policing a Clash of Cultures’ (on Amazon Kindle bookshelf, and also in my autobiography, ‘Cometh the Hour,’ also on Amazon Kindle.
Those reports were considered damaging to the Solomon Islands national interests as a sovereign nation then faced with an internal civil conflict that grew in intensity and led, ultimately, to the collapse of a democratically elected government, many reported deaths of civilians and the Prime Minister held captive by armed militants.
If I had been the Prime Minister in 1999 in would have warned foreign journalist in the same way Prime Minister Sogavare has recently done about the conduct and standards expected of them when reporting on the situation in the Solomon Islands.
The decision taken by the Solomon Islands government in recognizing the PRC as a diplomatic partner, just as Australia did, was taken as a sovereign, independent country and let us all see how the relationship pans out in the longer term. What is not needed is the kind of speculation and slanted news reporting that has become most evident of late.
Finally, as for the reported US coast guard boat incident, allow time for an explanation from the SIG.