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Coast Guard Conducts Security Boardings On Cruise Ships
by U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir
March 3, 2024

In operations ensuring the safety and security of Guam's maritime borders, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam personnel successfully conducted security boarding on the MS Zuiderdam, a Vista-class cruise ship operated by Holland America Line, upon its arrival on February 18, 2024 and the MS Artania, chartered since 2011 by Phoenix Reisen, a German-based operator, on February 25, 2024.

February 18, 2024 - In an operation ensuring the safety and security of Guam's maritime borders, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Sector Boarding Team personnel prepare to conduct a security boarding on the MS Zuiderdam, a Vista-class cruise ship operated by Holland America Line, upon its arrival. This operation underscores the commitment of the U.S. Coast Guard to safeguarding the Port of Guam and the larger region's maritime domain. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g Whip Blacklaw.)
February 18, 2024 - In an operation ensuring the safety and security of Guam's maritime borders, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Sector Boarding Team personnel prepare to conduct a security boarding on the MS Zuiderdam, a Vista-class cruise ship operated by Holland America Line, upon its arrival. This operation underscores the commitment of the U.S. Coast Guard to safeguarding the Port of Guam and the larger region's maritime domain. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g Whip Blacklaw.)

These operations underscore the commitment of the U.S. Coast Guard to safeguarding the Port of Guam and the larger region's maritime domain.

"The Sector Boarding Team's operations are integral to our mission of protecting the maritime gateways to Guam and the surrounding region," said Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the lead boarding officer for the evolution. "By checking a ship's paperwork, getting to know the crew, and making sure all the right security steps are in place ... and by teaming up with global efforts like the International Port Security Program ... the SBT makes sure ships are following the strictest safety rules. It's all about keeping the people and our waters safe while staying connected with the world."

The MS Zuiderdam, carrying 1,159 passengers and 761 crew members, was met at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard's Sector Boarding Team (SBT) before arriving in port at the Port Authority of Guam at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2023. The MS Artania, carrying 1,031 passengers and 511 crew members, received the same reception on their 7:30 a.m. arrival on Feb. 25, 2024.

The SBT is crucial in maintaining maritime safety and security, especially at ports like Guam. Their actions, which include thorough inspections and compliance checks against international standards such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, are designed to ensure that commercial vessels do not pose a threat to the port or national security.

These operations are grounded in a commitment to uphold high safety standards, assess security risks, and collaborate with other agencies, including Customs and Border Security. This collaborative approach, under the authority of the U.S. Coast Guard captain of the port, aims to enhance maritime security while minimizing disruptions to marine commerce.

The boarding of the MS Zuiderdam and the MS Artania represents the Coast Guard's proactive approach to maritime security, emphasizing the importance of vigilance and enforcement in maintaining a safe maritime environment. This operation also serves as a reminder of the strategic role Guam plays in the Pacific, acting as a hub for tourism and international maritime traffic.

As the second and third cruise ships respectively to visit Guam in 2024, other federal and local authorities met their arrival with a traditional dockside welcome. They conducted official activities to allow passengers and crew to go ashore and the cruise ship team to conduct other necessary in-port business.

The ship visits, coinciding with the military exercise Cope North 2024 and the visit of the USS Roosevelt, further highlight February as a month of significant activity for Guam's ports, tourism, and military sectors. The Port Authority of Guam anticipates three cruise ship arrivals in March and more throughout the year.

"The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team remains dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of all maritime activities in its area of responsibility, contributing significantly to the region's economic well-being and the security of our region," said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. "The security boarding operation, executed by the SBT, is critical to the U.S. Coast Guard's strategy to enhance maritime security. Through these actions, we not only ensure the safety of those aboard visiting vessels but also enhance the security of our port and contribute to the broader stability of the Pacific maritime region."

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