US Navy deploys in Vanuatu waters as part of regional maritime law enforcement push

Commanding officer of USS Rushmore Cmdr. John Ryan speaks to guests during a ship tour, while anchored in Port Vila harbour. The vessel is deployed in support of the Oceana Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI), a US program supporting maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania. Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann

Commanding officer of USS Rushmore Cmdr. John Ryan speaks to guests during a ship tour, while anchored in Port Vila harbour this week. The vessel is deployed as part of the Oceana Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI), a US program supporting maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania. Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann

The USS Rushmore, a United States amphibious dock landing ship, disembarked maritime law enforcement personnel last week and provided tours of the ship for invited Port Vila guests. The commanding officer said personnel are assisting regional maritime security enhancement “and keeping the sea lanes open for the benefit of all.”

The annual conference of Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA) has rejected any capitalistic push for development in Melanesia. The topic has been under discussion following statements on development from conferences around the Pacific region which have also been made in Vanuatu by the sectors of investment and business. The MILDA conference was held in Arawa, Bougainville, and coordinated by Joel Symoh of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre Land Desk. “MILDA says that land promises its custodians a future that money cannot give. We, therefore, stand to protect our land.” The MILDA Conference, though not attended by any West Papuan representative, did have delegates from PNG, Bougainville, the Solomons, Fiji and Kanaky. Arawa, where the conference was held, holds a key importance for MILDA in that Bougainville is where MILDA began. The alliance says “MILDA came to Bougainville with admiration that Bougainville stood up to global corporate power to protect its motherland. With humble respect for the people of Bougainville, MILDA will never decide for Bougainville, but still stands with Bougainville, whichever way it chooses to go.”

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