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Our New Defender

By KYLE WALKINE

Tribune Staff Reporter

kwalkine@tribunemedia.net

HMBS Arthur Hanna, the first of eight new vessels in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s new fleet, arrived in the country yesterday morning, nearly a month ahead of its proposed June 13 arrival date.

The acquisition of the vessels is a part of the RBDF’s Sandy Bottom Project.

National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage said the vessels will strengthen the country’s border protection measures.

“We have to be able to defend our borders and protect the integrity of our country,” Dr Nottage said yesterday, at a press conference at Prince George Wharf.

“As you know, illegal migration is the biggest problem we have, in terms of border invasion. But there are drugs and guns that always go through, there’s human smuggling, trafficking in persons, and the fight against all of those will be significantly enhanced by the acquisition of this fleet.

“In addition to that the last boat to be produced, the ‘Ro-Ro’ is going to be of inestimable value to us, in terms of assisting in the aid of hurricanes and disasters of any kind.”

The minister added that the RBDF would like to take advantage of other technology like helicopters and drones to enhance the country’s security.

HMBS Arthur Hanna, a 42-metre vessel, has an effective operational range of about 2,500 miles. It is worth 11m euros, or $15m, according to the vessel’s commanding officer Lieutenant Chapell Williams.

“It’s a part of our command’s plan to maintain the integrity of our waters, in terms of migrant patrols, illegal drug smuggling and I think it also speaks to the command’s intent in terms of decentralisation of the organisation,” Mr Williams said.

According to Commander Nedley Martinborough, the second of the eight vessels is expected to undergo her test run today in Holland and should be in the country around July 10.

He added that the new fleet of vessels is expected to serve the Defence Force for many years to come.

“These vessels fill a void that has been missing for several years, in that it provides a complete range of vessels from 100 ft to this one, which is 140 ft and we still have within our fleet the 200 ft HMBS Bahamas in Nassau, which is also set to receive some work during the Sandy Bottom project,” Cmdr Martinborough said.

“Given the existing fleet at the completion of the Sandy Bottom Project, that should suffice maritime security from the surface level for some years to come. I would daresay the next 15 or 20 years.”

The remaining six vessels, along with the nine inflatable boats and one landing craft, will arrive in the country over a three-year period.

The government announced in March that it would borrow $232m for the eight new vessels as well as upgrades to ports at Coral Harbour, Gun Point, Ragged Island and Mathew Town, Inagua, with all of the work being done by Van Oord and Damen Shipyards out of the Netherlands.

Of that figure, $149m is for the purchase of the fleet, while the remaining $75m is designated for the civil works.

The new vessel can accommodate up to 24 people, eight of whom will be trained in Holland beginning next week.

The remaining officers will be trained in New Providence as well as in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, the government has plans to hire 800 new Defence Force officers over the next five years.

The Bahamas will officially become the owners of the ship sometime this week once it has been signed over.

Comments

TheMadHatter 6 years, 5 months ago

Somebody better inform Port-au-Prince !!!! They can send even more sloops now. The Bahamas has an extra tug boat to pull 'em from Ragged Island to Nassau.

TheMadHatter

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242orgetslu 6 years, 5 months ago

PLEASE READ AND PASS ON! This is the link where the full story is: http://si.com/vault/article/magazine/...">http://si.com/vault/article/magazine/...

Across the inky-blue Gulf Stream from Florida, near the sheer edge of the Great Bahama Bank, a new island is emerging from the sea. Although it bears the appealing name Ocean Cay, this new island is not, and never will be, a palm-fringed paradise of the sort the Bahamian government promotes in travel ads. No brace of love doves would ever choose Ocean Cay for a honeymoon; no beauty in a brief bikini would waste her sweetness on such desert air. Of all the 3,000 islands and islets and cays in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay is the least lovely. It is a flat, roughly rectangular island which, when completed, will be 200 acres and will resemble a barren swatch of the Sahara. Ocean Cay does not need allure. It is being dredged up from the seabed by the Dillingham Corporation of Hawaii for an explicit purpose that will surely repel more tourists than it will attract. In simplest terms, Ocean Cay is a big sandpile on which the Dillingham Corporation will pile more sand that it will subsequently sell on the U.S. mainland. The sand that Dillingham is dredging is a specific form of calcium carbonate called aragonite, which is used primarily in the manufacture of cement and as a soil neutralizer. For the past 5,000 years or so, with the flood of the tide, waters from the deep have moved over the Bahamian shallows, usually warming them in the process so that some of the calcium carbonate in solution precipitated out. As a consequence, today along edges of the Great Bahama Bank there are broad drifts, long bars and curving barchans of pure aragonite. Limestone, the prime source of calcium carbonate, must be quarried, crushed and recrushed, and in some instances refined before it can be utilized. By contrast, the aragonite of the Bahamian shallows is loose and shifty stuff, easily sucked up by a hydraulic dredge from a depth of one or two fathoms. The largest granules in the Bahamian drifts are little more than a millimeter in diameter. Because of its fineness and purity, the Bahamian aragonite can be used, agriculturally or industrially, without much fuss and bother. It is a unique endowment. There are similar aragonite drifts scattered here and there in the warm shallows of the world, but nowhere as abundantly as in the Bahamas. In exchange for royalties, the Dillingham Corporation has exclusive rights in four Bahamian areas totaling 8,235 square miles. In these areas there are about four billion cubic yards—roughly 7.5 billion long tons—of aragonite. At rock-bottom price the whole deposit is worth more than $15 billion. An experienced dredging company like Dillingham should be able to suck up 10 million tons a year, which will net the Bahamian government an annual royalty of about $600,000.

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