Commodore clarifies published “misinformation”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel on Wednesday put an end to what he termed to be the “misinformation” that was recently printed in a local tabloid as it relates to the number of RBDF vessels that are presently inoperable.

Earlier this week, The Punch tabloid published a front-page article claiming that 8 RBDF vessels were not in operation. Bethel, however, said that such information is false, and only three of its boats are not functioning.

“Three of our vessels are non-operational. Two out of that three require short-term maintenance and one requires long-term maintenance,” Bethel said. “The two that require short-term [maintenance], that’s just wear and tear and the one that requires longer-term maintenance, that’s the one that had the grounding.”

Bethel was speaking to the media during the commissioning of HMBS Madeira at the Coral Harbour base.

The HMBS Madeira is the final of nine vessels to be built by Damen Shipyards under the Sandy Bottom Project.

Bethel warned that it should not be made a habit to question the status of RBDF vessels as it poses a threat to national security.

“When you report the news, you are telling the world out there what we have and what we don’t have [and] where they’re at,” Bethel said. “The criminals love what you’re doing. They applaud you, but I brought that to light because there was some misinformation the public needed to be made aware of but we should not make it a practice of telling the public where our boats are located.”

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said vessels are expensive and sometimes they have to go on ‘dry dock’ for maintenance. “It’s like a car. You drive it day in and day out and never pay attention, then it needs servicing. Sooner or later that car is going to give in on you,” Dames said.

“As you are very well aware [with] the Sandy Bottom Project we had like $230 million dollars of taxpayers’ money that went into it, so we have to ensure that we manage the resources acquired through that loan very carefully.”

The Sandy Bottom Project was implemented back in 2014. The project was the single largest capital investment ever made in the RBDF since its inception in 1980.

The Project includes the acquisition of patrol crafts, dredging of harbours, and the development of bases and port facilities. It also facilitates the RBDF’s decentralization program which includes the development of Defence Force bases, deployment of personnel, ships and aircrafts.