U.S. Government Delivers Interceptor Patrol Boats to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in Handover Ceremony

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August 04, 2008

A ceremony to mark the hand-over of four 43-foot interceptor patrol boats as part of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Initiative, Enduring Friendship was held at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force base in Coral Harbour yesterday.

The 43-foot interceptor boats are top of the line vessels fitted with the latest state-of-the-art communications and radar equipment. The total value of the four boats and trucks is $3.3 million. The Bahamas has already received $2.5 in communications equipment that is currently being installed at various base station locations. The new boats will enable the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) to intercept smugglers of drugs or weapons who frequently use “go fast” boats. U.S. Ambassador Ned L. Siegel and the Minister of National Security, the Hon. Tommy Turnquest gave remarks at the event.

Enduring Friendship is a United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) maritime security assistance initiative aimed at assisting and strengthening partner nations’ maritime domain awareness, and operational capabilities to anticipate and respond to threats, maritime emergencies, and natural disasters. Jamaica, Panama and the Dominican Republic are receiving similar assistance.

Enduring Friendship will improve partner nations’ maritime command, control and communications capability, increase partner nation interoperability and integrate partner nations into a common maritime operational picture. It will also lay the foundation for partner nations to participate in maritime information sharing and coalition operations. In conjunction with other U.S. SOUTHCOM efforts, Enduring Friendship will increase maritime security in the Western Hemisphere.

Enduring Friendship is a multi-year maritime security assistance initiative that supports the President’s Western Hemisphere strategy, the Proliferation Security Initiative, the United States Southern Command’s Theater Security Cooperation Strategy and Panama’s Secure Trade and Transportation Initiative.

Remarks at Enduring Friendship Boat Handover Ceremony by Ambassador Ned L. Siegel

Friday, August 1, 2008, 10:00 a.m.
RBDF Base Coral Harbour

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. The Honorable Orville A. T. (Tommy) Turnquest, Minister of National Security and Immigration, Commodore Clifford Scavella, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Colonel Al Brooks, Deputy Director for Security Assistance, United States Southern Command, Mr. Mike Cross, United States Naval Space Warfare and Naval Systems Command, Lieutenant Commander Delong Bonner, Military Liaison Office, US Embassy, Mr. Chuck Wainright, President of Naples Yacht Boat Manufacturers, Mr. Tyler Wainright, Naples Yacht Vice President of Operations, Members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Members of the Military Liaison Office at the US Embassy, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends.

Welcome to this long-awaited ceremony to mark the official handover of four, state-of-the-art, 43-foot interceptor patrol boats to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF). This event is part of the U.S. Southern Command’s “Enduring Friendship” initiative. “Enduring Freedom” is a security cooperation initiative that marks just one aspect of the excellent bilateral relationship we in the United States enjoy with the people and Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

It is an initiative that seeks to share information and national security capabilities between our two countries to better confront the threats affecting the entire region. This initiative enhances a partner nation’s ability to patrol sovereign waters – in accordance with international and domestic laws of both our countries. And these vessels, which we are very pleased to hand over to the people of the The Bahamas shows that “Enduring Freedom” provides mechanisms for collective action should a threat be detected.

In addition to The Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic are receiving similar assistance from the U.S. “Enduring Friendship” aims to deny transnational criminals, terrorists and other threats access to The Bahamas and the United States by establishing an in depth defense in concert with our partner nations.

The goal is to detect, deter, disrupt, and defeat illicit activity while supporting maritime defense infrastructure within the Caribbean and Central America. Ultimately,

“Enduring Friendship” supports domestic capabilities and establishes regional partnerships, enhancing hemispheric stability and security for us all.

In The Bahamas, this takes on special meaning given our longstanding and warm friendship between such good and close neighbors. So it is with considerable pleasure that I participate in the handover of these diesel-powered interceptor boats. They are top-of-the-line vessels, outfitted with the latest state-of-the-art communications and radar equipment.

The new boats will enable the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to engage and apprehend violators who use “go fast” boats in illegal activities. The total value of these four boats and trucks is $3.3 million. We have already provided The Bahamas with a further $2.5 million in communications equipment, currently being installed at various bases, under this initiative.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force will also continue to receive training to operate these boats. In June, ten members of the Defence Force finished an eight-week training course in Fort Myers, Florida. The course focused on operations, maintenance, communication, and operation of these interceptor boats, and refined the trainees’ maritime patrolling skills. Another ten members completed training in October through December of 2007.

Expertly manned by Defence Force personnel, these boats and the communication equipment will be invaluable tools in the fight against illegal smuggling and all forms of trans-national crime.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we cherish and look forward to continuing our mutual partnership with the people of The Bahamas. This important event marks another step forward in enhancing our longstanding and successful security cooperation.

Thank you to all in attendance for joining us to witness the official handover of these vessels. I wish the Defence Force crews of these boats every success in keeping our countries safe. I wish you men – fair winds, calm waters and following seas.

Thank you.

News date : 08/04/2008

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