The Bahamas Ministry of National Security has moved to acquire nine vessels for the country’s Defence Force.
During a contract signing ceremony held at Cabinet Office on Tuesday, March 18, The Ministry of National Security contracted the services of Damen Shipyard to acquire four Damen Stan Patrol 4207 vessels; four Damen Stan Patrol 3007 vessels; nine Rigid Inflatable boats and one Damen Roll-on Roll-off Landing Craft – a Damen Stan Lander 5617 that is 183 feet in length with 8.5 feet draft.
After thanking the Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage for executing the plan to acquire the vessels, Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said that the effect of this decision results in the introduction of a new ‘paradigm’ in the country on the work carried out by the Defence Force.
“The pressing priorities of the country happen to concern coverage of 100,000 square miles of water that make up the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” said Mr. Christie. “That we have illegal human migration as a major challenge to our country, the consequence of which is enormous in terms of the implications to the future well-being of our country. Therefore, there must be no compromise of the capacity of the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas to put itself in a position, notwithstanding help from its allies, the United States of America.”
Additionally, Mr. Christie pointed to the issues of human smuggling (which has placed The Bahamas in a negative light) and the significant economic loss the country suffers as a result of illegal maritime activities by neighbouring countries.
“The acquisition of these ships will place our country in a position to effectively police our waters with respect to minimising the extent to which poachers take advantage of our marine life and marine resources to the detriment of our fishermen,” said Mr. Christie.
Minister Nottage said these vessels were chosen due to their reputation in navies and coast guards of countries such as Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, Honduras, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. He said Defence Force Officers would be undergoing extensive training to ensure that the vessels are operational from the moment of their delivery to the country.
In addition to the acquisition of the nine ships, the contracts with Damen Shipyards include the upgrade of two Bahama class vehicles and for the establishment of facilities for training and the acquisition of a Bridge Simulator.
Furthermore, the Government executed a contract for Port Infrastructural works (both marine and shore side) at Coral Harbour (New Providence), Gun Point (Ragged Island) and Mathew Town (Great Inagua).
“Damen Shipyards has teamed with Van Oord, an international contractor specialising in dredging, marine engineering and offshore projects, to execute the civil works components of these services,” said Mr. Nottage. “Much of the works to be undertaken by Van Oord will be subcontracted to local partners in order to stimulate employment in this area.”
The pricing for the shipbuilding component of the project is approximately $149 million and the pricing of the civil works approximately $75 million.
Press Release, March 21, 2014; Image: Wikimedia