Honiara, Solomon Islands: The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) arrived in Honiara, Solomon Islands, for a port visit on December 5 as part of its Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) deployment.
“The Sailors and Coastguardsmen of USS Sampson are incredibly excited to spend time in the Solomon Islands, a place so rich in naval history and which has been such a friend of the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard,” said Commander Tim LaBenz, Commanding Officer, USS Sampson.
“It is our privilege to be on the leading edge of what will be a year-long commemoration for the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II in the Pacific. Wreath laying ceremonies like these are small but important recognitions of the sacrifices of the people of Solomon Islands alongside our Sailors, Marines, and Coastguardsmen. It is also an important part of preserving our own heritage, by introducing heroes like US Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient Signalman 1/C Munro, and those who are memorialized at the American War Memorial, to a new generation of Service members.”
Commander LaBenz also met with the Police Commissioner and the Forum Fisheries Agency today.
USS Sampson recently completed maritime law enforcement operations in support of OMSI. OMSI is a Secretary of Defense program which leverages Department of Defense assets in the region to increase the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness. A law enforcement detachment from U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team based out of San Diego worked with Sampson to conduct maritime law enforcement operations in support of U.S. and Pacific Island Nations fisheries laws and to suppress illicit activities. Sampson was the first ship to exercise the recently signed bilateral agreement with Vanuatu, successfully boarding eight vessels.
Ship visits like these provide excellent opportunities for the United States and Pacific Island Nations to strengthen security cooperation and help to ensure a safer and more prosperous future for the region. A contingent of Sampson Sailors delivered medical supplies and sporting goods to the Vura Clinic and School as a part of Project Handclasp. “Much like our time conducting Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief in Kaikoura, New Zealand, Sailors from Sampson stand ready to assist where it’s needed, when it’s needed,” said CDR LaBenz.
Sampson is assigned to U.S. 3rd Fleet and is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. Though operating in the Western Pacific, an area historically controlled by the 7th Fleet commander, Sampson will remain assigned to the 3rd Fleet commander. This is part of the Pacific Fleet-led initiative to increase the involvement and operational control of the San Diego-based 3rd Fleet beyond the international dateline to increase the command and control capabilities in the dynamic Western Pacific theater.