JDF gets new offshore patrol vessel
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s maritime security and blue economy received a further boost with the naming and commissioning into service of a new offshore patrol vessel, His Majesty’s Jamaican Ship (HMJS) Norman Manley.
It is the latest addition to the fleet of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and will be employed in fulfilling the traditional roles of the 1st District JDF Coast Guard.
These include search and rescue, fisheries protection, maritime law enforcement, marine environmental pollution control, coastal surveillance, anti-smuggling and drug interdiction, aid to the civil power and other government agencies and ceremonial duties.
Addressing the official ceremony, which was held at the Port Royal Cruise Terminal in Kingston on November 29, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang said the naming and commissioning of the HMJS Norman Manley further confirms the Government’s commitment to a comprehensive and strategic approach to a sustainable blue economy and making the island a safer and more secure place.
“A sustainable blue economy emerges when economic activity is in balance with the long-term capacity of ocean ecosystems to support this activity and remains resilient and healthy. One such long-term capacity of the ocean or blue ecosystem is security –more precisely, maritime security,” he stated.
He said the naming and commissioning of the HMJS Norman Manley is evidence of the Government’s commitment to ensuring the security of the country’s borders and the health and wealth of the nation.
The minister noted that Jamaica has a very expansive maritime space, adding that its geostrategic location gives it a natural advantage for shipping and trade as well as places the country on the prime transshipment routes for criminal networks dealing in drugs, guns and human trafficking.
“We will continue to strategically upgrade our civil defence and our national security assets, incorporating the use of technology as a part of our critical tools in the strategic response to creating a safer Jamaica and a sustainable blue economy,” he said.
Chang informed that the HMJS Norman Manley arrived in Jamaica on November 5, 2023 and is the third of four offshore patrol vessels procured by the Government. This, he said, brings the number of offshore patrol vessels in the fleet to five.
He said each offshore patrol vessel that the Government acquires for the Maritime Air and Cyber Command significantly increases the capacity of the JDF Coast Guard to monitor and safeguard the country’s borders.
“The offshore patrol vessel fleet continues to provide protection against various threats, including the trafficking of small arms and light weapons, drugs and human trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other threats to our blue economy. In conjunction with the JDF Airwing, the offshore patrol fleet provides a continuous aeronautical and maritime search and rescue capability in keeping with Jamaica’s national and international obligations,” Chang informed.
He said as the JDF has transformed its structure and expanded its personnel, these offshore capabilities have, in large part, improved Jamaica’s readiness to address adequately the threats and challenges that lie ahead.
Chang informed that the ship’s name stems from the Defence Board’s decision to classify the vessel in the category of the Honour Class, the highest national honour being the Order of National Hero, noting that the name Norman Manley was selected as the fourth name in the class.
Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman, said the commissioning of the asset into service is the continuation of the long-term plans for capacity development.
She added that this is in keeping with the JDF’s strategic goals that were articulated in its strategic defence review.
“These investments in the maritime, air and cyber command are a major part of our strategic efforts to address Jamaica’s challenges in the maritime domain. You may be aware of the ongoing challenges we have regionally and globally with the trafficking of illegal persons and other illegal activities, such as the continued drugs and gun trade in the maritime space,” she said.