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Defence Force Bolsters Fleet With Three New Vessels, Mobile Base

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) held the largest commissioning ceremony in the service’s history on Friday at the John Alfred Wharf, bolstering its fleet with three new vessels and a 17-piece containerised mobile base as it upgrades its fleet to safeguard the Bahamas.

The 187-foot, multifunctional cargo carrier, HMBS Lawrence Major, along with two 98-foot patrol vessels, HMBS Lignum Vitae and HMBS Cascarilla, joined the HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna, the HMBS Durward Knowles, the HMBS Leon Smith and the HMBS Rolly Gray as seven of the nine ships that will comprise the service’s modern fleet.

The HMBS Lawrence Major was named in honour of the late Lawrence Whitfield Major, a lifelong seaman turned maritime law enforcement officer. Mr Major joined the Royal Bahamas Police Force in 1950 and became a well-respected public servant, eventually taking charge of the newly formed Police Marine Division in 1971, which later became the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

During his time with the unit and later the force, Mr Major instilled a strong work ethic in the service. That concept was fittingly adopted as HMBS Lawrence Major’s motto is “Semper Promptitudine Serviendi” - which translates as “Always Ready to Serve”.

In 1962 Mr Major received the Queen’s Commendation for brave conduct. Ten years later he received the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service, in 1977 the Police Medal for Distinguished Service and in 1979 was made a Member of the British Empire.

The HMBS Lawrence Major is a licensed version of the DAMEN Stan Lander 5612 - an auxiliary transport, roll on-roll off vessel - built to Bureau Veritas classification in 2015.

A forward ramp enables rapid loading and unloading of rolling deck cargo. The vessel also boasts comfortable living accommodation for her crew and embarked forces and an isolated medical room at deck level which provides the capacity to address medical issues efficiently and effectively.

The 17-piece mobile base allows the RBDF to erect a mobile kitchen capable of producing 250 meals per day, a 40-foot mobile medical unit, a 20-foot dry towage container, a water treatment plan, water tanks, a 20-foot workshop for marines, two generators and other amenities.

RBDF officials said the idea for a mobile platform from which emergency management could take place is new to the Bahamas and is an added feature that can best benefit a service for an archipelagic nation.

At Friday’s ceremony Prime Minister Perry Christie explained the need for the modern fleet, stressing that the island make up of the Bahamas and the evident advancement in illegal migration, drug and human trafficking, has been pressing the government for some time to make such a move.

Mr Christie said the demand for ships to equip the Defence Force has increased, with the need to permanently deploy marines, officers, ships, aircraft and other essential resources at strategic locations throughout the Bahamas.

“This investment, the largest capital outlay of its kind in the history of the Bahamas, was necessary in light of the myriad of threats confronting our nation,” he said, adding that these threats are compounded by an ageing fleet, a shortage of personnel and limited bases - all justifications for the government’s $232m Sandy Bottom Project.

“I can say publicly that the government of the Bahamas has committed to seeing this change through to completion by providing the required resources and platform from which this small but effective force can execute their duty. So it is for me to herald in the Bahamas that today I therefore mark another milestone in the unfolding of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.”

Mr Christie lauded the commissioning of the three vessels on Friday as a testament to his government’s commitment to invest heavily in the safety and security of the nation.

The Sandy Bottom Project was announced in mid-2014 after the government tabled a resolution to borrow $232 million to purchase nine new Defence Force vessels. The loan with Deutsche Bank facilitated $149 million to build each of the ships and an additional $75 million to cover civil works for a total of $224 million. The remaining $8 million accommodated any changes that might have arisen during the scope of the project.

Comments

sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

What will be left of this $300 million investment in the next five/ten years ????? .......... is there a maintenance plan for all of these "modern" vessels?????? ................ that's the real issue

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paul_vincent_zecchino 2 years, 8 months ago

Assistant Commisioner of Police, Lawrence Whitfield Major, was a valiant hero.

He courageously exposed drug lords, including Carlos Lehder, who by 1979 had stolen Norman's Cay to use as his drug running base in the Bahamas. Both Lawrence Major and Norman Solomon evinced spectacular bravery when they went ashore at Norman's Cay to confront Lehder and his goons, at great risk to their lives.

The incorruptible Commissioner Major was relentless in pursuing drug dealers and their product; this during an era when Luis 'Kojak' Garcia was corrupting officials left and right, to protect his lucrative marijuana smuggling enterprise.

Lawrence Major is credited with the single largest cocaine seizure in history, having discovered half a billion dollars worth of the white powder in the Exumas. During one of his many solo forays, armed only with a revolver - and this was long before cell phones and other reliable long distance communications by which to summon backup assistance - Lawrence Major discovered and seized the largest haul of marijuana ever, a literal wall of bags of the stuff, six feet high and two miles long, up at Black Rock.

This defense ship surely bears the namesake of a valiant warrior in the fight against crime, drugs, and the cynical monsters who purvey them.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

Ironic that the PLP would honour a man who tried to break up their drug rings back in the day ......... a good honest fearless Long Island man

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paul_vincent_zecchino 2 years, 8 months ago

Yes indeed, sheeprunner12, it is most ironic, now that you mention it.

Thank you for kindly replying to my post. Long Island sounds like a wonderful place, would love to visit it someday.

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SP 2 years, 8 months ago

..................................................... Translation ...............................................

The 187-foot, multifunctional cargo carrier, HMBS Lawrence Major, along with two 98-foot patrol vessels, HMBS Lignum Vitae and HMBS Cascarilla, joined the massively under utilized HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna, the HMBS Durward Knowles, the HMBS Leon Smith and the HMBS Rolly Gray as seven of the nine ships that will comprise the service’s modern fleet with no maintenance or sensible deployment plan as the Haitian invasion intensifies unabated.

Haitians are riding Bahamians like jackass's with the full endorsement of successive governments looking for votes.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

These wooden Haitian sloops are still infiltrating our waters all the way down to the Exuma Cays ...... what is the purpose of these "modern" vessels????? .......... this cannot be acceptable RBDF & BJ Nottage

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

This was the perfect time for the PM to announce who was the new RBDF Commodore and what happened in the Inagua melee ............. but not a word except empty rhetoric

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DEDDIE 2 years, 8 months ago

It would make more sense and it will be cheaper to use single engine Cessnas planes to patrol our waters. Brand new single engine Cessna will run you into 300 thousand each. 10 will cause you 3 million. All you need is about 20 go-fast-patrol boats station from Inagua straight on up the chain of islands. When the Cessnas sport a suspicious vessel, the go-fast-boat would be able to respond within one hour. Price tag -10% of what they are paying now to upgrade the defense force fleet.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

Excellent idea .......... but in this way, more money for the kickback guys

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