U.S. donates two Interceptor Patrol Boats to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force

NASSAU, Bahamas – The U.S. donated two Interceptor Patrol Boats to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force on Friday, March 5th.

Bahamas Deputy Chief of Mission Timothy Zuniga-Brown made the following remarks in regards to the Enduring Friendship Boat Donation:

It is my pleasure to be here today to mark the official handover of two state-of-the-art, 43-foot interceptor patrol boats to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. This event is part of the U.S. Southern Command’s “Enduring Friendship” initiative.

“Enduring Friendship” is a security cooperation initiative that marks just one aspect of the excellent bilateral relationship we in the United States enjoy with the people and Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

It is an initiative that benefits both of our nations by sharing information and national security capabilities in order to better confront the threats affecting the entire region.

These vessels, which we are very pleased to hand over to the people of The Bahamas will allow us…. Together… to provide collective action should a threat be detected.

The purpose of “Enduring Friendship” is to deny transnational criminals, terrorists and other threats, access to The Bahamas and the United States by establishing defense partnerships.

The goal is to Detect, Deter, Disrupt, and Defeat illegal activity while supporting maritime defense within the Caribbean and Central America.

We all know that cocaine and heroin are major funding sources for terrorists. A large percentage of these drugs entering the U.S. transits through the Caribbean region.

In addition to the drug threat, we must ensure the safety of our vessels and products. 95% of U.S. overseas trade transits through the Caribbean Basin.

Ultimately, “Enduring Friendship” is about enhancing the stability and security of the hemisphere. In The Bahamas, this takes on special meaning given our longstanding and warm friendship between such good and close neighbors. So it is with considerable pleasure that I participate in the handover of these interceptor boats. They are top-of-the-line vessels, outfitted with the latest state-of-the-art communications and radar equipment.

These new boats, in addition to the four we provided in 2008, will enable the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to engage and apprehend violators who use “go fast” boats in illegal activities.

The total value of these two boats and trucks is $1.6 million. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force will also continue to receive training to operate these boats. Between June and August of last year, ten members of the Defence Force finished an eight-week Maritime Interceptor training course in Fort Myers, Florida.

The course focused on operations, maintenance, communication, and operation of these interceptor boats, and refined the trainees’ maritime patrolling skills.

A total of 30 RBDF personnel have now been trained through Enduring Friendship Program. Expertly manned by Defence Force personnel, these boats and the communication equipment, will be invaluable tools in the fight against illegal smuggling and all forms of trans-national crime.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We cherish and look forward to continuing our mutual partnership with the people of The Bahamas. This important event marks another step forward in enhancing our longstanding and successful security cooperation.

Thank you to all in attendance for joining us to witness the official handover of these vessels. I wish the Defence Force crews of these boats every success in keeping our countries safe.

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