Navy Group to Boost International Maritime Cooperation Meets in Point Loma

Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, speaks during the Pacific Indian Ocean Shipping Working Group meeting at Naval Base Point Loma. Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Maria G. Llanos

Naval Base Point Loma hosted a maritime working group this week that attracted senior officers from navies around the world.

The annual forum is designed to enhance naval cooperation and guidance for shipping and trade operations to bolster security and protection of merchant shipping and industry relations.

Senior officers from the navies of Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United Kingdom attended the Pacific Indian Ocean Shipping Working Group, hosted by Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of the Navy’s U.S. 3rd Fleet through Thursday.

“Your active participation, partnership, and leadership in this working group is critical to better understanding our operating environment,” Koehler said during his opening remarks. “Through the exchange of information on your maritime industry security practices and current trends, the naval cooperation and guidance for shipping or maritime trade operations greatly enhances the interface between the naval forces and merchant shipping.”

The working group also served as a final planning conference for Bell Buoy 2022, an exercise designed to promote such processes and policies at tactical and operational levels. It simulates scenarios that incorporate new threats to which participants must respond.

“The exercise enables us to integrate partner capabilities and collaborate,” Koehler said. “No one country alone can manage this vast geographic area.”

The working group was formed in 2002 following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and is derived from a 1951 maritime treaty.

An integral part of U.S. Pacific Fleet, the 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Indo-Pacific and also provides the training necessary to perform various military operations, including combat, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.