Solomon Islands Deny US Coastguard Scheduled Port Call for Refueling
© Wikipedia / JOSN Joseph EbaloCoast Guardsmen aboard U.S Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy (WPB 1326) wave good-bye to the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 74) after the first underway fuel replenishment (UNREP) between a U.S. Navy cruiser and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter.
© Wikipedia / JOSN Joseph Ebalo
The UK’s HMS Spey, which had been participating with the US Coastguard ship on a mission to allegedly prevent illegal fishing, was also denied port.
The authorities of Guadalcanal, one of the islands of the Solomon Islands, has denied a port call to US Coastguard cutter Oliver Henry, Coastguard Lieutenant Kristin Kam has revealed. The vessel was due for scheduled port refueling, but was denied the diplomatic clearance required to dock.
According to Kam, Solomon Islands' authorities failed to green light the cutter and did not comment on the situation.
Following the denial of port entrance, the Oliver Henry changed course and cut its mission short, docking instead in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on August 26.
The cutter was on patrol in parts of the Coral Sea and the Solomon Islands before trying to dock in Guadalcanal. It was reportedly on an international mission to prevent illegal fishing alongside the UK Royal Navy's HMS Spey.
According to media reports, the HMS Spey was also due to make a port call in Guadalcanal and similarly failed to receive diplomatic clearance from Honiara. The Royal Navy has refused to comment on the HMS Spey's mission and reported failure to dock in the Solomon Islands.
The news of the incident prompted speculation that Honiara’s decision might have been prompted by the security agreement signed between the Solomon Islands and China earlier this year. The text of the agreement has never been released, but Honiara said that it allows Beijing to provide the country with security assistance, such as additional police force, when needed. The pact was signed following violent riots that had hit the island nation's capital last year.
However, weeks after the signing, several media outlets published excerpts allegedly from the agreement. They contained references to China providing law enforcements for maintaining security at Honiara's request, but also contained provisions about the Solomon Islands providing port access for Chinese warships.
Both countries denied allegations that the pact contained the creation of Chinese military bases on the Solomon Islands, but their statements left the US and Australia, two powers also staking influence in this part of the Pacific, unconvinced and critical. Beijing snapped back, recalling the AUKUS security pact involving the US and UK supplying Australia with technology for building a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. China accused the trio of violating the principles of the nuclear non-proliferation. For their part, the US and UK made no promise of arming Australia with nuclear weapons as a part of AUKUS pact.