China, US Conduct Joint Sea Exercise in Hawaii


A Chinese Maritime Safety Administration ship has made a historic visit to Honolulu of the United States to improve civilian maritime cooperation. The Chinese ship, together with the US coast guard, has conducted a joint search and rescue exercise.

China’s Haixun 31 patrol boat pulls out of Honolulu harbour, with U.S. Coast Guard officers as well as officials from China’s Maritime Safety Administration, or MSA, on board.

The Hiaxun 31 is in Hawaii on a historic visit – the first by an MSA ship to the United States – to conduct this search-and-rescue drill with the U.S. Coast Guard. As part of the exercise, two MSA officers travelled on the Coast Guard’s ship, the Galveston Island.

A few hours earlier, the Coast Guard left a dummy adrift in the Pacific Ocean to act as a hypothetical stranded person. A search helicopter from the Haixun 31 scoured the waters until the crew located the dummy and brought it back to the Chinese ship, where a Coast Guard helicopter later lifted it to safety.

The idea of course is that cooperation between the two countries will go well beyond controlled situations just a few kilometers off the coast of Hawaii. Under international maritime agreements, the United States has rights to patrol thousands of kilometers of the Pacific Ocean, as does China, so there is huge scope for these kinds of joint operations in the future.

The benefit today is the development of communications we need in order to effectively manage rescue at sea.

Captain Jonathan Rice, US coast guard, said, “Doing exercises like these will help lay the groundwork for better communications and coordination in the future.”

There are no scheduled plans as of now, but the next step for the Chinese-US maritime relationship could be for a Coast Guard to make a similar visit to China.