Commodore defends military’s interception record

Commodore defends military’s interception record
Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines are inspected by former Commodore Tellis Bethel at the RBDF base. (RBDF)

Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Tellis Bethel last week defended the military’s interception record, following another Haitian sloop landing near its Coral Harbour Base.

Bethel told Eyewitness News that while he understands the public’s concern, for every one boat that makes it way into shore, the RBDF stops “many, many more”.

He also said the defence force is now utilizing drones in their search efforts.

“As we speak, we are in the process of installing our first coastal radar in Inagua to also assist,” Bethel said.

“In other words, there is not one single entity that is going to be the cure all solution.

“You need a umber of entities working and being coordinated to assist in the effort. Yes, there have been landings, but what also has been is the movement towards these longer term objectives to detect and also to gather information, which is critical. Without it, its like searching for a needle in a hay stack.”

Several Haitian migrants were apprehended in a combined effort between defence force, police and immigration officials, last Sunday.

Authorities told Eyewitness News that shortly after midnight, a 35-foot Haitian sloop made landfall off Venice Bay, south New Providence.

Efforts by security forces resulted in the capture of 26 migrants, who were turned over to immigration officials for further processing.

When asked about being criticized by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last month for “damaging ” RBDF vessels, Commodore Bethel said, he will not get into a war of the words with Dr. Minnis in the press.

“I am not going to get in any dispute about what the prime minister did and what he said,” he said.

“All I know is I respect the prime minister. I appreciate his vision for the defense force and where it is going with the support of the minister of National Security, and I don’t have time really to focus on any side issue. I have to stay focused on the main problem and that is securing the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”