October 25, 2017
Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, on October 20, 2017, at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Coral Harbour Base, that, being a part of the international community, The Bahamas is living up to its obligation to help neighbours in time of need.
“We are extending the same help we received from them when Hurricanes Joaquin and Matthew devastated our islands,” Minister Dames said, during the Official Ceremony for the Commencement of Voyage of HMBS Lawrence Major to Dominica to Assist with Disaster Relief and Recovery Efforts.
“This in no way diminishes our primary responsibility to the people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas especially those in our southern islands who suffered during Hurricane Irma,” he noted. “Our teams continue to work with residents throughout the Bahamas who would have experienced damages and loss due to Hurricane Irma.”
Among those present for the Official Ceremony were Permanent Secretary Carl Smith, RBDF Commodore Tellis Bethel; Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell, Executive Command Team Members; Commanding Officer of HMBS Lawrence Major, Lieutenant Commander Milton Munroe, the Coxswain aboard HMBS Lawrence Major Chief Petty Officer John Gardiner, Officers and Marines of the Defence Force Disaster Relief and Recovery contingent, Other Officers, Warrant Officers and Marines.
Minister Dames related that, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, several of the island-nations of the eastern Caribbean were left completely devastated. Airports, harbours, homes, medical facilities, businesses and much more were destroyed – he pointed out – lives were lost and thousands were left without food, water and much of the basic necessities of life.
“After touring the island-nation of the Commonwealth of Dominica, our Prime Minister and his entourage got a first-hand look at the devastation experienced by the citizens of that island-nation and their immediate need for restoration to normalcy,” he said.
Minister Dames said the Bahamas Government is grateful to be in a position to offer a helping hand to the neighbours in the region.
“The Government of The Bahamas has, therefore, agreed to provide support to Dominica by welcoming a number of school children to further their studies in The Bahamas while the schools in Dominica are being repaired,” Minister Dames said. “The Government also decided to assist our Dominican brothers and sisters with a contingent of Officers and Marines from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and a team of five medical doctors to assist with disaster relief and recovery efforts on that Island.”
“The Honourable Prime Minister and The Bahamas Government is therefore pleased with the response of Commodore Tellis Bethel and his command team response in making ready the Defence Force's Containerized Mobile Unit, which will be transported aboard HMBS Lawrence Major,” he added.
Minister Dames said that, in addition to HMBS Lawrence Major's 20-member ship's company, a 12-man technical team, along with two additional cooks and two additional medics would accompany the vessel to operate the Containerized Unit and to provide basic technical support on the Island of Dominica.
“In response to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency’s (CDEMA) request for regional firefighters to contribute toward a team of 20 firefighters to assist with the management of wildfires in Dominica, four firefighters from the Police Force Fire Services will also be transported to Dominica aboard HMBS Lawrence Major,” Minister Dames said.
The custom-built Containerized Mobile Unit would also provide living accommodations for the Bahamas Disaster Relief and Recovery contingent, as well as up to 1,000 cooked meals per day, and thousands of gallons of water for persons in need, Minister Dames noted. The technical team will also provide basic maintenance support in the areas of carpentry, electrical and mechanical repairs, he said.
“HMBS Lawrence Major will also transport 24 pallets of goods and supplies donated to Dominica by The Bahamas Red Cross Society, The Girl Guide Association, and the Bahamas-Dominica Association coordinated by Mrs. Eleanor Phillips,” Minister Dames stated. “The supplies were received by The National Emergency Management Agency.”
During the one-month mission, Minister Dames said, HMBS Lawrence Major will make a port of call in Kingston, Jamaica where she will embark two additional container units of supplies, as well as several firefighters to be transported to Dominica.
HMBS Lawrence Major was scheduled to arrive in Jamaica Monday, October 23, and depart the following day.
“She is scheduled to arrive in Dominica by Saturday, 28th October,” Minister Dames said. “In Dominica, the team will collaborate with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency as they engage in relief and recovery operations for approximately two-weeks before returning to The Bahamas by the end of next month.”
“The Government of The Bahamas commends the Commanding Officer of HMBS Lawrence Major, Lieutenant Commander Milton Munroe, his ship's company, the operators of the Mobile Container Unit headed by Petty Officer Rudolph Wilson, the Defence Force's Technical Team, the Defence Force's Medical Team and cooks for the invaluable role they will play in helping the people in Dominica return to normalcy,” Minister Dames added.
The Government of The Bahamas also commended Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ferguson and the Director of the Police Fire Services, Chief Superintendent Walter Evans, for making available four firefighters to assist with recovery efforts in Dominica, Minister Dames said, and the Government thanks them for their contributions.
He added that the Government was also grateful for the five medical doctors from the Ministry of Health who will join HMBS Lawrence Major after she arrives in Dominica.
“We are very proud of the men and women of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Fire Services, who are embarking upon this support mission,” Minister Dames said. “We believe you will make positive contributions to the relief and recovery efforts in Dominica.
“It is our prayer that God will keep you, guide you, and grant you great success, and a safe return home.”
By Eric Rose
Bahamas Information Services