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U.S. Coast Guard Helps Palau Track Chinese Research Vessel in its EEZ

da yang hao
Da Yang Hao (file image courtesy Chinese state-owned media)

Published Dec 10, 2021 1:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard helped out the Republic of Palau by finding and monitoring the Chinese research vessel Da Yang Hao, which had entered into Palau's EEZ unannounced.

The 4,600-ton vessel entered Palau’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Nov. 29. On Nov. 30, Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu received a call from the Palau Division of Maritime Security, which reported that the Da Yang Hao had been spotted north of Kayangel Island - within Palau’s EEZ - without proper authorization. 

The government of Palau asked for help from the Coast Guard, activating the U.S.-Palau bilateral law enforcement agreement. JRCC Honolulu deployed a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircraft to locate the research vessel. Given Da Yang Hao's varying course and minimal speed, officials wanted to verify that the vessel was not in distress.

The Hercules aircrew found the research vessel about 100 nautical miles WNW of Babeldaob (Palau's main island), transiting at slow speed eastbound. Via a radio exchange, Da Yang Hao told the Hercules aircrew that the vessel was avoiding a storm. Another overflight the next day found the research vessel transiting slowly north, about 190 nautical miles northwest of the islands and approaching the limits of Palau’s EEZ.

“The Coast Guard is a critical component of stability and governance in the Indo-Pacific,” said Capt. Nicholas Simmons, Commander of Coast Guard Forces Micronesia - Sector Guam. “The service is an enduring presence in Oceania, and is proud to support partner nations by assisting them to patrol their waters, enforce their laws, and protect natural resources within their EEZs.”

Da Yang Hao is a 2017-built "marine resource survey ship" constructed at CSSC Huangpu Wenchong. It is built for blue-water oceangoing service and is equipped with a 6,000-meter rated autonomous submersible. 

Da Yang Hao departed Hong Kong on November 17 for her mission to Palau. As of Saturday morning local time, Da Yang Hao was located 430 nm to the northwest of Guam, headed east at 10 knots, according to AIS tracking data provided by Pole Star.

Da Yang Hao's AIS trackline, Nov. 29 - Dec. 4 (Pole Star)