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Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) / Navy Division

During programs marking the 56thArmed Forces Day at the Barclay Training Center 11 February 2013, Ambassador George W. Wallace, Jr., a career diplomat, lawyer and administrator who is Advisor to the President on Foreign Affairs, recommended that Government considers creating a Navy and an Air Force to defend the country’s long coastline and air space, respectively. “An Air Force will serve as a deterrent, while the Navy will protect our coastline against illegal encroachments on our territorial waters. The Navy will also effectively protect oil and gas facilities off the coast of Liberia,” he warned.

The Liberian maritime sector has a unique and vibrant past, but years of war and neglect have taken a toll on the fishing industry (ref A), the port, and overall maritime control and security inside Liberia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Although Liberia's U.S.-based ship registry (LISCR) is still the world's second largest and a notable contributor to the government's budget, Liberian employment in the maritime industry is negligible and the country's maritime academy moribund. Security at the Port of Monrovia falls short of International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) compliance and the country does not have a coast guard or any other marine security assets. The Government of Liberia (GOL) is seeking to address these and other shortfalls in maritime governance and security with a variety of efforts: a conference on and draft legislation regarding international search and rescue; proposals for the re-establishment of a Maritime Training Institute; requests for coast guard and other marine security and surveillance assistance; and consideration of a plan to privatize part or all of the Monrovia Freeport, including port security.

In 2007, the Ministry of Defense established an inter-Ministerial Task Force to examine the legal groundwork necessary to establish a Coast Guard, and the Ministry of Defense submitted a formal request to the United States for assistance in assessing port and Coast Guard needs. The first step required for the creation of a Coast Guard is the passage of the National Defense Act which authorizes the establishment of a Coast Guard. In addition, in order to be eligible for USG assistance via the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) the coast guard must be established under the Ministry of Defense. ODC participates on the Coast Guard Task Force meetings along with representatives from the BMA, Liberian Seaport Police (LSP), Bureau of Customs and Excise (BCE), and Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).

US Embassy-Monrovia, in coordination with US Africa Command, US Marine Corps Forces Africa and Operation ONWARD LIBERTY (OOL), partners with the Government of Liberia to enhance the operational capabilities of the Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). OOL is a US MARFORAF-led operation comprised of joint US servicemembers who mentor and advise the AFL in order to develop a national military that is responsible, operationally capable, and respectful of civilian authority and the rule of law. OOL’s goal is to assist the AFL in building a professional and capable military force that can effectively contribute to the overall security environment in Liberia.

Liberian Coast Guardsmen and French Navy sailors participated in joint anti-piracy training aboard the French frigate, Latouche-Treville, during a port visit 16-19 April 2013, to Monrovia. US Navy and US Coast Guard (USCG) personnel from US Embassy-Monrovia’s Office of Security Cooperation were on hand to mentor and support Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) sailors throughout the partnered training. The joint anti-piracy training covered topics including non-compliant vessel board, search and seizure tactics, weapons familiarization, underwater navigation and hull sweeps for mines and smuggling compartments.

LCG training officer Lieutenant Charles Blawah said the opportunity to conduct training on an unfamiliar vessel was a boon for the LCG sailors. “Knowledge is perishable, so being able to practice the tactics we know in different environments and situations helps reinforce the training we’ve had in the past,” he said. “Although the language barrier can be challenging, the French and LCG sailors have done a great job working together cooperatively this week.”

French Navy Lieutenant Matthew Ruf, anti-submarine warfare officer, said the training opportunity was valuable for both maritime services. “Our sailors were familiarized with the LCG’s weapon systems and gained a better understanding of the unique challenges the LCG faces on the water,” he said. “It was a great week training together and trading experiences, which will hopefully help all of us be more proficient.”

USCG Commander Patrick Clark, US Embassy-Monrovia Office of Security Cooperation maritime advisor, said the joint training was key to the LCG’s capacity growth. “Taking advantage of training opportunities like this is very important to the continued development of the Liberian Coast Guard,” he said. “Our hats are off to the captain and crew of the Latouche-Treville for their willingness to provide this training and to share their knowledge and professional skills with the LCG. By partnering with other nations’ navies, the LCG is able to more rapidly increase their operational skills and better serve the people of Liberia.”

Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) - History

The Liberian National Coast Guard, the military establishment's seaborne element, began operations in 1959 after the delivery of two 40-foot patrol boats from the United States. According to the act of the legislature that created the coast guard, it was responsible for protecting lives and property at sea, preventing smuggling, aiding navigation, and enforcing pollution standards within the 200-nautical-mile limit of Liberia's territorial waters. The coast guard had law enforcement jurisdiction in Liberian ter ritorial waters and was empowered to prevent any persons from entering the country "when it was believed that the presence of such persons would endanger the security of the state."

The assistant minister for coast guard affairs in the Ministry of National Defense oversaw the force. In 1984 this position was held by Captain S. Weaka Peters, a former commandant of the coast guard. Patrick D. Wallace, the commandant in 1984, led a force consisting of six patrol craft and some 450 officers and rat ings, who were organized into three major commands: the Coast Guard Base Unit, the Task Force Unit, and the Port Security/ Search and Rescue Unit. In addition, since 1977 the coast guard has also been responsible for operating the nation's network of coastal lighthouses. The Task Force Unit included three 50?ton, Swedish-built coastal patrol craft that were delivered in 1980 as well as three smaller American?built patrol craft delivered in 1976. The relatively small size of the Liberian vessels limited their use to coastal waters. The craft were usually based at Elijah Johnson Coast Guard Base at Freeport in Monrovia, but they could operate from coast guard bases at Buchanan, Greenville, and Cape Palmas.

In 1984 the coast guard was considered to be the best trained and most professional component of the AFL. It was handicapped, however, by a lack of funding to maintain all vessels in the inventory. The serviceability of the fleet was also hampered by a reluctance on the part of the Swedish government to provide spare parts for the craft it had supplied. Thus, only one of the Swedish patrol craft was operational, and the other two had been immobilized by the lack of spare parts.

In late 2002 the Navy Division of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), under the command of Lt. General Roland Duo, recaptured the strategic town of Kolahun in northern Lofa County from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). General Roland Duo, General Frontline Commander of the Armed Forces of Liberia, is also Chief of Staff of the Navy Division of the Armed Forces of Liberia [as of October 2002]. For nearly two years the strategic town of Kolahun in northern Lofa County had been under siege by LURD. Finally, President Charles Taylor speaking at a news conference in Monrovia, announced that government troops were in full control of Kolahun and the strategic town of Foya. The recapture of the two key cities followed clashes between the Navy division of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) under the command of General Roland Duo and LURD forces. On October 21, 2002 a team of local and foreign journalists visited the embattled Lofa region on a fact-finding mission.

The Liberian Coast Guard folded into the Liberian Navy in 1986, was officially demobilized along with the Armed Forces of Liberia in 2006.

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Page last modified: 07-10-2013 19:05:51 ZULU