International ships arrive at Port Angeles Harbor

PORT ANGELES — The world, or at least the Pacific Rim, descended on Port Angeles Harbor on Sunday.

Cutters arrived from Russia, Japan and Canada, with representatives from South Korea expected as well.

The event is a humanitarian training exercise called Pacific Unity.

The multi-national training exercises will begin today, including coordinated search and rescue, navigation, law enforcement and security operations.

When the ships arrived, dozens of Russian, Japanese and Canadian personnel from their equivalents of the U.S. Coast Guard flooded off into downtown Port Angeles, snapping pictures of buildings and art on the streets.

Russians in full uniform stopped by the antique shops to check out the merchandise, while others just strolled.

Kevin Smith, an engineer for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Seattle, said he was looking forward to today’s activities, with a picnic at Lincoln Park and socializing with his international counterparts.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some soccer going,” he said.

Said his friend and fellow engineer Matt Fulenwider: “Yup, we’ll dominate.”

During the picnic, from noon to 4 p.m. today, Port Angeles Mayor Gary Braun will welcome the group, but the event will be closed to the public.

Smith said they had been instructed not to talk about the training operations, but that he had never previously participated and was looking forward to it.

Pacific Unity is part of the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum, an international partnership of Coast Guard-like agencies from the Pacific rim.

It was initiated in 2000 to foster multilateral cooperation for exchanging information on maritime security, fisheries enforcement, illegal drug trafficking and illegal migration.

This year’s Pacific Unity scenario will demonstrate the participating countries’ ability to assist a fictitious nation, Pacifica, the Coast Guard said.

Security personnel from South Korea are scheduled to join in the exercise.

Six vessels are scheduled to participate in the 2009 Pacific Unity.

They are U.S. Coast Guard cutters Henry Blake and Midgett, Canadian Coast Guard cutter Provo Wallis, Canadian hovercraft Siyay, Japanese Coast Guard cutter Yashima and the Russian border guard vessel Vorovskiy.

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