JDF Coast Guard gets four vessels from the US

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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WITH the country's recent acquisition of four additional boats, state minister in the Ministry of National Security Senator Pearnel Charles Jr says the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) now has the largest fleet in the Caribbean.

The boats — two 38-foot SAFE boats and two 37-foot Boston Whaler vessels — along with equipment for maintenance, valued at US$4 million, were donated to the JDF Coast Guard by the United States Government under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

This donation brings the JDF fleet to a total 12 boats.

On October 4, the vessels and equipment were formally presented by chargé d'affaires at the US Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant, to Charles Jr during a ceremony at the JDF Coast Guard headquarters in Port Royal.

With a maritime space 25-times Jamaica's size, Charles Jr said the vessels will significantly enhance the Coast Guard's interdiction efforts and facilitate greater coordination with their US counterparts in curtailing transnational crimes.

“The cooperation that we have [now], more than ever, is extremely vital, particularly given the dynamic and emerging threats which we are seeing globally, and being faced with here and also in the Caribbean region,” Charles Jr said.

Welcoming the donation, the junior minister said the JDF Coast Guard is critical to the Government's security apparatus.

Pointing out that the US Government, over the years, has donated a number of vessels, operational and engineering equipment to Jamaica to bolster its enforcement efforts, Charles Jr admitted that there is no single strategy to provide a wholesale solution.

“This effort has to take on a layered approach, whereby threats can be detected from their point of origin and intercept the threat, prior to it reaching our shores. It is for that reason that these vessels, I understand, and other equipment are more than welcomed addition to the fleet at the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard.

“Let me assure you that they will be employed in a range of coastal and interdiction operation to protect our borders… they will help to keep the citizens of our country safe,” Charles Jr said.

Khant, in his remarks, lauded the Government for prioritising the safeguarding of Jamaica's coastline and territorial waters in light of increasing transnational criminal activities.

He said the donation would lay the foundation for creating a prosperous and peaceful society which is “also in the United States' interest”, due to the countries' close proximity to each other.

“These boats are a symbol of our commitment to our Jamaican partners. We assure you that we stand with you in your fight against criminal organisations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff Major General Rocky Meade said the auxiliary vessels will support and enhance the capability of the existing fleet, in the fulfilment of the mandate of the Coast Guard.

“We gladly accept these vessels that illustrate the continued strong partnership between our countries, and we commit to putting them to great use to support our joint security interests,” he said.

— Racquel Porter

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