Categorized | Featured, National News

HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna Sails In

Protecting the country’s borders, warding off illegal immigration and fighting drug, gun and human trafficking will soon be made easier for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) after the first boat in a fleet of nine arrived in the capital Monday.

The HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna sailed into The Bahamas ahead of schedule after making a 20-day trek from Holland in the Netherlands.

National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage toured the vessel yesterday morning and said it is investments like these that prove that the government is serious about protecting the country’s borders.

“We happen to be the bridge between Latin America and The United States,” Dr. Nottage said. “The drugs are produced in Latin America, for example, the guns are produced in The United States and sometimes find their way into Haiti, or Latin America or Cuba. So we have to be able to defend our borders and protect the integrity of our country.

“As you know, illegal immigration is probably the biggest problem we have in terms of border invasion, but drugs always go through, we are satisfied that guns go through, we’re satisfied that there is human smuggling, there’s trafficking in persons. The fight against all of these issues will be significantly enhanced by the acquisition of this fleet.”

Back in March, the government entered into the $232 million loan agreement with the Deutsche Bank for the Sandy Bottom project which seeks to provide massive upgrades for RBDF bases at Coral Harbour, Gun Point, Ragged Island and Matthew Town, Inagua as well as the acquisition of this new fleet.

The vessels are being provided by Damen Shipyards, out of the Netherlands.

Dr. Nottage said this move signals real comprehensive marine navigation.

Lieutenant Commander Chapell Whyms said the HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna which is valued at $15 million is equipped with the latest technological advancements and is better suited than the vessels currently in use to man the waters.

“This is like comparing a new model BMW to an older model BMW,” he said. “It’s still a BMW but the newer one is of course better equipped, upgraded and advanced. It’s a 42-metre vessel that has an effective operational range of about 2,500 miles. We pretty much sailed from The Azores to The Bahamas without refuelling, so it lends to us being able to do our jobs and be out on the seas for a longer period

“It carries a crew of about 24, which is adequate to respond to any incidents or issues we have in the water, so it’s pretty well manned.”

RBDF Commander Nedley Martinborough added that with this first vessel in port nearly a month sooner than expected; the others are expected to follow in rapid succession.

“The second vessel of this type is expected to commence her official sea trials tomorrow and she should be expected in country very near or around independence this year,” Commander Martinborough added.

“The third vessel will be following two months after that, so basically it’s a two month period between the acceptance of the first three vessels this year and next year the last of this class will come around April.”

Officials noted that several RBDF officers recently travelled to Holland for specialised training in navigating the new ships and added that another group of officers will travel for training next week.

Minister Nottage noted that later this week the government will sign the acceptance for this first ship and after that it will be the property of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Cabinet ministers are expected to tour the vessel today.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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