|Authored by:||Matt Maura|
|Source:||Bahamas Information Services|
|Date:||February 27, 2017|
HMBS Coral Harbour Base – The Government of The Bahamas has seen “significant returns” in the country’s interdiction efforts -- particularly against poaching and migrant smuggling -- as a result of its investment in the Sandy Bottom Project, Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage said.
The National Security Minister said statistics indicate that the Defence Force has made tremendous progress in the area of maritime interdiction.
“Over the past five years, the Defence Force has apprehended over 6,000 undocumented migrants, captured 13 Dominican vessels with over 180,000 pounds of fisheries resources, rescued or assisted over 600 lives at sea, and has provided disaster relief assistance to thousands of Bahamians during times of hurricanes,” Dr. Nottage added.
The Sandy Bottom Project got its official start in 2014 after the Government made a commitment that year to invest almost one-quarter of a billion dollars into the modernization of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force through the Project. The aim is to facilitate the decentralization of the Defence Force through the development of bases at strategic locations in the northern, central and southern Bahamas, while helping in the war on transnational crimes such as gun, narcotics and human smuggling and poaching.
The “Sandy Bottom Project” represents the single largest capital investment the Government of the Bahamas has ever made in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force since its inception in 1980. Total cost of the project is $232 million. The Project supports the acquisition of patrol craft, dredging of harbours and the development of bases and port facilities.
Addressing the commissioning ceremony for the HMBS KAMALAMEE, Friday, February 24, Dr. Nottage said the Sandy Bottom Project will facilitate the implementation of the Defence Force’s decentralization programme through the development of Defence Force bases at strategic locations in the northern, central and southern Bahamas, along with deployment of personnel, ships and aircraft.
The HMBS KAMALAMEE is designed for coastal and inshore operations. With modern communication, navigation equipment and armament, HMBS KAMALAMEE is “suitably equipped” to safeguard the territorial integrity of The Bahamas while providing maritime law enforcement capability throughout the country.
The Defence Force has already received nine state-of-the-art vessels as a result of the Sandy Bottom Project. These include the HMBS Lawrence Major, a 187-foot multi-functional cargo carrier; four, 140-ft patrol vessels, and four, 100-ft. patrol craft.
Additionally, the harbours at HMBS Coral Harbour, Matthew Town, Inagua and Gun Point, Ragged Island, have been dredged to accommodate patrol craft. Quay walls and jetties have also been constructed under the agreement.
A state-of-the-art Operations Command Centre is currently being constructed at HMBS Coral Harbour Base that will further strengthen the Defence Force’s operational coverage of The Bahamas’ 100,000-square-mile maritime domain in the fight against illegal migration, poaching of marine resources, arms smuggling, illicit narcotics, human trafficking and potential terrorist related activities.
Decentralization is expected to enhance the Defence Force’s overall efficiency in conducting search and rescue and disaster relief operations, in addition to maintaining marine navigational aids for the safety of lives at sea and ashore.
“Upon the completion of this Administration’s undertakings in the arena of maritime security, the Defence Force would have laid the groundwork for the decentralization of its operations and the country will be unprecedentedly positioned to effectively deal with cross-border criminal activities,” Dr. Nottage added.