NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force on Wednesday commissioned the HMBS Madeira, the final of nine vessels to be built by Damen Shipyards under the $232 million Sandy Bottom Project.
The Project, launched in 2014, 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.
The Sandy Bottom Project was the single largest capital investment ever made in the RBDF since its inception in 1980.
The HMBS Madeira has been operable since July 2016, but the RBDF commissioned the boat at the Coral Harbour Base yesterday.
According to the Madeira’s commanding officer, Senior Lieutenant William Sturrup, the vessel has seen achievements with the apprehension of six poaching vessels with a combined total of 219 poachers and over 168,804 pounds of fisheries products since its delivery.
“Fortitude and stamina are words that describe both the vessel and its crew. The otherwise successful patrol had been without incident for its crew but quickly turned into a combative pursuit as HMBS Madeira boarded and seized two Dominican fishing vessels poaching in Bahamian waters,” Senior Lieutenant Sturrup said.
“The apprehension of those vessels, which could have easily turned into a tragic outcome, reminded the brave men and women within the Force of the tremendous responsibility they bear in defending our nation’s sovereignty.”
Senior Lieutenant Sturrup also mentioned that in addition to sovereignty, the HMBS Madeira was acquired to combat human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics and arms smuggling, poaching, search and rescue and other maritime security duties within the maritime domain of The Bahamas.
Minister of National Security, Marvin Dames also revealed that commissioning of the Madeira brings to an end the first of the three-part decentralization program for the RBDF.
“The Bahamas has one of the largest maritime domains in the region and it is imperative that the Defence Force decentralizes its operations throughout our islands to adequately police this substantial territory,” Dames said.
“The Government of The Bahamas is already making provisions for the Defence Force to enter into the second and third phases of its decentralization programme, which will include the construction and expansion of strategic bases in the central and Northern Bahamas and the acquisition of technologies for a more effective and efficient maritime domain of awareness and capability.”