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Press Release | March 7, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf conducts drills, refueling at Sea, during transit in South China Sea

SOUTH CHINA SEA — U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) departed Alameda, Calif., Jan. 2, and is the Coast Guard's first national security cutter deployed to the Indo-Pacific region this year.

The Indo-Pacific region stretches from the United States Pacific Coastline to the Indian Ocean; it is home to over half of the world's population and accounts for two-thirds of the global economy.

The Bertholf crew reached Guam mid-February, where the cutter refueled and took on provisions before continuing its transit into the South China Sea to begin engagements with allied nations and strengthen existing partnerships in the region.

The crew conducted damage control and pyrotechnics training and exercises to demonstrate to new members the importance of emergency response as well as the proper use of distress signals and how to identify one at sea. Additionally, Bertholf conducted gunnery exercises to maintain proficiency and develop the basics of operations and handling.

The voyage included a transit through the San Bernardino Strait in the Philippine Sea, which separates the island of Luzon in the north from the island of Samar in the south, as well as a transit through the Singapore Straits, a main shipping channel between Indonesia and Malaysia.

Most notably, the crew conducted a refueling at sea evolution with the U.S. Naval Ship John Ericsson (T-AO 194) on Feb. 23, 2024, in the South China Sea. Alongside connected replenishment is a standard method of transferring liquids such as fuel and water and allows the cutter to stay out at sea for extended periods of time.

As an advocate of a rules based order and a free and open Indo-Pacific, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf’s presence in the South China Sea and planned engagements with regional partners, promote the creation of more multilateral exercises, and interoperability.

Bertholf is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.