US Coast Guard vessel visits Ocho Rios

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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ST JAMES Jamaica (JIS) — The United States (US) Coast Guard cutter Resolute, with its 78-strong crew, recently docked at Reynold's Pier in Ocho Rios, St Ann, for a three-day visit.

The Resolute provides a law-enforcement presence in the Caribbean Sea, patrolling more than 11,000 miles and helping to deter illegal activity, including drug smuggling.

Mayor of St Ann's Bay, Michael Belnavis, said the visit of one of the US's “most travelled and storied” coast guard cutters to Ocho Rios is a testament to the special relationship between Jamaica and the US and “the commitment between the two countries to take the fight to criminals on the high seas”.

“We are very happy to have the Resolute and its crew members here in Ocho Rios,” he said.

“We are particularly happy that a number of our students and teachers were given the opportunity to tour the (vessel) and to get a feel as to how the maritime industry operates,” he added.

Belnavis pointed out that the job of the US Coast Guard is not only to intercept drug smugglers or protect America's borders but also to provide “humanitarian assistance” at sea.

“There are many lives of persons fleeing from their homelands that could have been lost at sea had it not been for the US Coast Guard. The Resolute is one of those cutters, which have been doing great work in the Caribbean region for decades, and it is a pleasure to have it here at our port,” he noted.

For his part, Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army, Pablo Raggio, said that while the Resolute is always operation-ready, part of the visit to Ocho Rios was also for crew members to interact and enjoy ”some of the wonderful things” the town has to offer. "Jamaica is a critical partner in our efforts to combat… trans-national criminal networks seeking to exploit the maritime domain,” he pointed out.

“The officers and crew of Resolute are happy to be here and continue to cherish the relationship we have with the Jamaican national security staff, including the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF)," he added.

Lieutenant Colonel Raggio said that as part of the coast guard's western hemisphere strategy, an international coalition, which includes the JDF, has been formed with a focus on counter-drug operations in the Caribbean.

The emphasis is on the dismantling of trans-national criminal networks, strengthening of partner nation interoperability, and the advancement of operational coordination.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Raggio said that Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica JDF, Major General Rocky Meade; and Chargé d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Kingston, Eric Khant, have signed an agreement to assign a JDF liaison officer to the Joint Interagency Task Force-South in Key West, Florida.

The position, he noted, is designed to provide improved collaboration and information sharing. The signing followed reception on board the Resolute to celebrate and reinforce military and diplomatic ties between Jamaica and the US.

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