#Nassau, August 16, 2018 – Bahamas – During the Official Handover Ceremony of a SAFE 25 Full Cabin Response Boat and Accessories, on August 14, 2018, Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames expressed gratitude in behalf of the Government and the people of The Bahamas to the US Embassy, which, he stated, yet again demonstrates the two countries’ diplomatic and close relations “over these many years”.
“Today’s handover ceremony marks a significant milestone in the bilateral relationship between our two countries,” Minister Dames said, during the event held at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Harbour Patrol Unit on East Bay Street. “The provision of this SAFE Full Cabin Response Boat and accessories – through the US Foreign Military Funding programme – represents the continued investment in the security partnership between the United States of America and the dedicated representatives at the Office of Defense Cooperation at the US Embassy Nassau Country Office, and The Bahamas.
“This gift will further strengthen our national resolve to secure our borders through the enhancement of maritime interdiction capabilities of the Defence Force’s Harbour Patrol Unit, HPU, a small Boat Station inaugurated in 2004 to improve the security within Nassau Harbour.”
Among those present at the event included Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy Stephanie Bowers; Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel; RBDF Captain Clyde Sawyer, Principal Officer, Administration; RBDF Chaplin Rev. Prince Bodie; RBDF Commanding Officer, Harbour Patrol, Senior Lieutenant Andrew Bowe, and a number of RBDF and US military officers.
Minister Dames noted that the handover package – valued at over $1 million – included a SAFE 25 Full Cabin Response Boat, capable of speeds of over 40 knots and crew and passenger capacity of up to 10 persons; a 2018 Ford F-350 extended cab truck with boat trailer for launching and retrieving; and boat spares and safety equipment for up to two years of operation.
“This package also includes a two-week training programme on familiarization, operation, boat-handling and maintenance of this new vessel for up to 20 persons,” Minister Dames added. “The training will be conducted by SAFE Boats International.”
He pointed out that, with over six million visitors to our shores annually, mostly arriving by cruise ships that berth at Nassau Harbour, it is critical that the Harbour Patrol Unit (HPU) – a first responder at the Harbour – be equipped to respond to any and all incidents.
Toward this end, Minister Dames said, the HPU collaborates with the Port Department, Bahamas Customs and Immigration Departments, Ministry of Tourism, and the Defence Force’s Port Security Unit in an effort to optimally perform their duties.
“Apart from being tasked with preventing breaches in the cruise ship basin, monitoring boating activities or patrolling neighbourhood beaches, the Harbour Patrol personnel are also tasked with providing critical security against terrorist activity; illegal migration; and firearms and drug trafficking. In addition, they also provide environmental and marine resource protection and maritime and search and rescue operations,” Minister Dames said. “To date they have conducted 600 patrols and 400 boardings with 13 arrests. Notwithstanding this, without adequate maritime patrol assets none of these actions would be possible.”
Minister Dames added that the Response Boat and its accompanying accessories were, therefore, a welcomed addition to the Harbour Patrol Unit. He added that the Commander of the Defence Force had advised that the SAFE Boat will be used for the continued execution of maritime operations in the Nassau Harbour area including anti-terrorist activity; cruise ship waterside security; maritime patrol and search and rescue operations.
“Once again, on behalf of The Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, The Ministry of National Security and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, I extend many thanks to The United States Government, as we accept this contribution to our maritime security efforts,” Minister Dames said. “I also offer our assurance that this SAFE Boat and equipment will be utilized in achieving and maintaining a high level of safety and security, here in Nassau Harbour and its environs, for citizens and our visitors alike.”
By: Eric Rose
Photo Caption: Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy Stephanie Bowers, and Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel, pictured at the US Embassy handover of SAFE Full Cabin Response Boat and accessories to the Bahamas Government on August 14, 2018 at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Harbour Patrol Unit on East Bay Street.
(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)