NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to securing the country’s vast open borders from illicit activities during the traditional military Commissioning Ceremony of Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship (HMBS) Madeira held at the Coral Harbour base on Wednesday.
The vessel and the rest of the fleet were procured through the Government’s 2014, $232 million Sandy Bottom Project. It is one of four 30-metre Dames 3007 Stan Patrol Craft.
Dr. Minnis underscored the importance of the role played by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) and its fleet in the protection of the country’s vast archipelago which extends southwest from Southern Florida to northern Cuba over 100,000 square miles of water.
Already, the HMBS Madeira’s captain and crew can boast of defending the sovereignty of the country, which was acquired to combat human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics and arms smuggling as well as poaching, search and rescue and other maritime security duties within the maritime domain of The Bahamas.
Madeira is a type of mahogany that grows throughout the Northern West Indies and is said to be first used by the Arawak Indians who were early settlers of The Bahamas.
Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling and the Minister of National Security, Marvin Dames also participated in the ceremony.
The RBDF recently completed the first phase of its decentralization program, with the acquisition of patrol craft under the Sandy Bottom Project.
Dr. Minnis said, “The implementation of the second and third phases of the force’s decentralization program, which are currently underway, is designed to create a multi-layered security strategy.”
The RBDF has grown from a membership of 200 at its inception in 1980, to approximately 1500 men and women today.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank the officers and members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, who have given a lifetime of service in the defence of our Bahamaland,” he said.
In addition, the prime minister thanked the marines who have given their lives in the service of country. He recalled that in 1980, four young marines gave the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the country’s territorial sovereignty soon after the formation of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
According to the prime minister, the maritime fleet of the RBDF plays an essential role in defence of the nation’s borders, and its far-flung archipelago.
He also pointed out that while many cities in the Caribbean and the world are coastal, the entire Bahamas is a coastal zone.
“Those who serve in this uniformed branch have also provided disaster relief at home and abroad, including in Dominica, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.”
“My government is committed to securing the vast, porous borders of The Bahamas through the implementation of the Force’s comprehensive maritime security program in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies.”
With “gratitude and tremendous pride”, the prime mMinister congratulated Commanding Officer, Senior Lieutenant William Sturrup of HMBS Madeira and his officers on their accomplishments to date.
This article was contributed by Lindsay Thompson of BIS