By Pacific Island Times News Staff
A U.S. coast guard cutter patrolling the Pacific waters as part of an international mission to monitor illegal fishing was denied clearance to dock in the Solomon Islands for a port call, according to an Associated Press report.
Citing a statement from the Coast Guard, AP reported that the Solomon Islands' government did not respond to a request for diplomatic clearance to stop at Guadalcanal, prompting the vessel to divert to Papua New Guinea.
The Oliver Henry was taking part in Operation Island Chief monitoring fishing activities in the Pacific, which ended Friday.
"When the stop in the Solomon Islands had been scheduled wasn't disclosed, but the Coast Guard said the Oliver Henry had arrived in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Tuesday following a patrol in parts of the Coral Sea and the Solomon Islands," AP reported.
“Ships' programs are under constant review, and it is routine practice for them to change,” the Royal Navy said in an emailed statement to AP. “For reasons of operational security we do not discuss details. The Royal Navy looks forward to visiting the Solomon Islands at a later date.”
Earlier this year, the Solomon Islands caused regional anxiety when it signed a security pact with China, triggering speculations that the treaty would entail opening a Chinese military base on the islands. The Solomons, however, denied that stamping a Chinese military footprint was part of the agreement.