JDF Coast Guard gets two new vessels from United StatesWednesday, August 26, 2015
THE Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard yesterday received two new maritime intercept vessels from the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which will allow the army to increase its activities in protecting the island's borders.
The two 37-foot Boston Whaler 'Justice' vessels were gratefully welcomed by the JDF Coast Guard at the presentation held in Port Royal.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer, commanding officer of the JDF Coast Guard, Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman said the vessels will significantly enhance the organisation's ability to conduct its duties.
"They will significantly enhance our ability, particularly in the near shore areas for interception," Commander Wemyss-Gorman said. "They provide the kinds of features that allow the sailors to stay out at sea for longer periods and to do faster interceptions to carry out the missions that we have," she continued.
The vessels, which will be used to combat the narcotics trade, have tactical equipment that are expected to enhance the JDF Coast Guard's operations.
The United States' donation of the vessels to the Jamaican Coast Guard to boost its maritime interdiction capability was another commitment of the support for the fight against the lucrative narcotics trade.
With the 'Justice' boats, and the expected delivery of an additional five similar vessels this year, the Coast Guard is hoping to greatly increase the frequency and coverage of the nation's territorial waters.
According to the Navy Section chief of the US Embassy in Kingston, Christopher Mitchell, the vessels were donated to Jamaica as an investment in the general goal of securing the coastlines and seas.
"It's an investment for two reasons; it's an investment in the partnership that they have operationally and the strategic goals that the countries share. In this case, counter-narcotics is sort of the main focus but they obviously have other goals just in general securing of the seas and the coastline and seas surrounding Jamaica, which is the same sort of interest throughout the Caribbean," Mitchell said.
"The partnership with Jamaica is a little more investment, because Jamaica is such a leader in the region that they not only work in partnership with the US, they ... actually are leaders among other Caribbean countries and Central American countries, and they train other countries to do the same kind of thing, so investing in this kind of capability is investing in the US-Jamaica partnership but also Jamaica as a leader in the region", he added.
Similar vessels have been donated to Belize and Guatemala.
The US SOUTHCOM is the US military's arm that deals with all of Central America, South America and Caribbean countries.