16 March 2017
Operation SOLVAN is a demonstration of the government of Australia’s continued commitment to support maritime surveillance and security patrols in Vanuatu and Solomon Island’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
Royal Solomon Islands Police Vessel (RSIPV) LATA returned to Honiara recently following a twenty-day fisheries deployment targeting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing in Vanuatu’s EEZ. The operation, designated Operation SOLVAN, is an Australian Government-funded operation through its Defence Cooperation Program (DCP).
RSIPV LATA, commanded by Staff Sergeant Harold Reggie, teamed with Republic of Vanuatu Ship (RVS) TUKORO, commanded by Superintendent Eddie Kalokul of the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing, to lead a surveillance mission encompassing the south eastern section of Vanuatu’s EEZ.
The mission saw the successful exchange of fisheries, transnational crime and police maritime officers between the vessels to strengthen the bilateral relationship and build upon the interoperability between the two nations, particularly with regard to the detection and deterrence of breaches to Vanuatu’s maritime security.
"The sea conditions were extremely rough, with more than four metre seas and forty knot winds. It was not very good for surveillance operations however I was impressed by my team’s effort to still participate" Staff Sergeant Reggie advised when asked how the operation went.
"We managed four boardings in total, RVS TUKORO achieved a further five. I think this was a good effort considering the weather we faced," Staff Sergeant Reggie continued.
The operation was hailed as a success by the Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Her Excellency Jenny Da Rin, with a total of 9 boardings conducted that resulted in 2 infringement notices being issued.
At a small closing ceremony held at the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing – MALA Base, Ms Da Rin also took the opportunity to welcome the two forces’ efforts to create a more gender-balanced environment with several female officers participating in the very successful operation.
Under the DCP, the Australian Government provides assistance with maritime surveillance to eleven countries across the Pacific. The centrepiece of this is the Pacific Patrol Boat Program. In Solomon Islands the DCP provides fuel and rations funding to support a majority of surveillance operations conducted by RSIPV AUKI and LATA. Australia also provides training opportunities for Maritime Division officers and provides two Australian Defence Force Maritime Advisors that live in Honiara full time.