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Coast Guard monitors maritime borders on Guam and Saipan amid booming cruise ship industry


cruise ship docked ashore
The cruise ship MS Artania docked at the Port Authority of Guam on Feb. 25, 2024. Photo courtesy of Port Authority of Guam

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


With several more cruise liners anticipated to visit Guam and the CNMI, the U.S. Coast Guard has raised vigilance to ensure maritime safety in the region.

The  Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam said its personnel conducted security boarding on the cruise ship MS Artania, which arrived on Guam on Sunday and the MS Zuiderdam, which arrived on Feb. 18, to ensure the security of the island's maritime borders.


"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," she added.


"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," the USCG said.


"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," it added.


MS Artania visited Guam and Saipan this week, ferrying more than 1,500 passengers and crew members.


“The coordination to receive cruise vessels like the MS Artania at the Port Authority of Guam, which is primarily a container yard, requires extensive collaboration,” said Port General Manager Rory J. Respicio.

 

“It is a testament to the effectiveness of teamwork between the Guam Visitors Bureau, Inchcape Shipping Services - the ship’s agent, the Customs and Quarantine Agency, Customs and Border Protection, and the Port Authority of Guam. Each entity plays a critical role, ensuring smooth operations to welcome tourists, thereby enhancing Guam’s tourism industry and local economy,” he added.


The MS Artania, the third cruise liner to visit Guam, docked at the commercial port at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday and departed at 9 p.m. It set sail for Saipan, where it arrived at 7 a.m. today.

The 756-foot vessel was welcomed by the Marianas Visitors Authority and indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian dancers of local dance troupes Petlas Marianas and Simiyan Marianas. 



Tour company Pacific Development Inc. was also on hand to help coordinate shuttle service to Garapan, island tours, Managaha tours, and others. 


 The Commonwealth Council for Arts & Culture organized vendors of arts & crafts and local delicacies for the occasion.  The Saipan Chamber of Commerce also attended to distribute flyers on behalf of their members.


Some passengers arranged for rental cars, with some companies delivering the vehicles directly to the port for convenience. Taxis lined up for those seeking personalized excursions. 


The MS Artania brought  1,039 passengers and 531 crewmembers aboard.

 

Other potential cruise ship visits to Guam include the MS Asuka II on March 3, the MS Queen Elizabeth on March 21st, the Le Soleal on March 24, the Carnival on April 8, the Seabourn on May 14 and Sept. 7, the Le Soleal on Oct. 8, the Carnival on Oct. 22nd, and the MS Asuka II on Dec. 30.


The Asuka II will make port on March 4, with 710 passengers and 500 crewmembers aboard. A majority of passengers of MS Artania are European, while a majority of passengers of Asuka II are Japanese. 


“The cruise ship niche market is one The Marianas has been able to capitalize on for many years, and it’s clear that there is still a demand for Saipan as a port stop,” said MVA acting Managing Director Judy C. Torres. 


“It takes a village – so to speak – to keep and grow this market.  The MVA markets and promotes the destination to generate demand to visit, the Commonwealth Ports Authority ensures the facilities and services are available, husbanding agents coordinate to meet the needs of each ship, transportation and tour companies stand ready, local businesses and artists prepare and present their products, and most importantly, our community keeps the island clean and makes our visitors feel welcomed," she added.

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 confer after completing a security boarding on the MS Zuiderdam, a Vista-class cruise ship operated by Holland America Line, upon its arrival on Feb. 18. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard/Lt. j.g Whip Blacklaw

Meanwhile, Coast Guard officials said 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.


"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," he added.



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