Tue | Dec 12, 2017

JDF Coast Guard gets new boats from the US

Published:Friday | October 6, 2017 | 10:42 AM
In this file photo, US train marine police and JDF coast guards to counter illicit activities at sea!

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard’s operational capability has been further strengthened with the acquisition of four boats and supporting maintenance equipment from the United States Government, valued at more than $500 million.

The two 38-foot SAFE boats and two 37-foot Boston Whaler vessels have been donated under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and will significantly enhance the Coast Guard’s maritime interdiction efforts and facilitate greater coordination with their US counterparts in curtailing transnational crimes, such as illicit drug, gun and human trafficking.

With these additions, Jamaica now has the largest maritime presence in the Caribbean.

The vessels and equipment were formally presented to National Security State Minister, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, by Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant, during a handover ceremony at the JDF Coast Guard headquarters in Port Royal, Wednesday.

Senator Charles said the provisions were welcomes, in light of the onset of “dynamic and emerging” criminal threats regionally and globally.

Noting that the JDF Coast Guard is a critical part of Jamaica’s national security apparatus, Senator Charles said the unit is responsible for a maritime space that is 25 times Jamaica’s size.

Against this background, he said the unit’s fulfilment of its mandate, inclusive of protecting the nation against threats delivered by sea and protecting persons who use the sea, “is an enormous task”.

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

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”.