KINGSTON, Jamaica – Two 43-foot Nortech Interceptor patrol boats have been added to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard’s fleet of vessels, which will enhance its ability to intercept go-fast boats, which are frequently used by smugglers of illicit drugs and guns.
Valued upwards of US$500,000, the boats, donated under the United States (US) marine security assistance programme called Enduring Friendship, were formally handed over to JDF Chief of Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders, by US Ambassador to Jamaica, Brenda LaGrange Johnson, at a brief ceremony at the Coast Guard’s Port Royal base in Kingston on Thursday (Jan. 10).
The gift brings to nine, the number of vessels which the Coast Guard has received from the US under Enduring Friendship. The diesel-powered interceptor boats are top-of-the-line and are capable of reaching a top end speed of 60 miles per hour. They are fitted with state-of-the-art communication and radar technologies.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Mrs. LaGrange Johnson informed that two additional boats will be donated to the Coast Guard later in the year, bringing the total value of the four boats to US$2.3 million.
United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Brenda LaGrange Johnson (centre), presents the keys for two Nortech Interceptor patrol boats to the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Chief of Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders
“Jamaica will also receive US$2.1 million in communications equipment such as radios and relay stations, to help the Coast Guard communicate better and faster while conducting patrols,” she said.
The Ambassador also advised that the US Government will continue to provide training support to the JDF, in the operation of the boats. “Ten members of the JDF have already completed training in fast-boat operations and another 10 will train later this year,” she indicated, adding that, “this equipment and training exemplify the best of a great collaboration between our countries.”
“We envision a network of maritime patrollers, properly equipped and trained to detect, deter, disrupt, and defeat illicit activities. We (will) continue to strengthen the alliance between Jamaica and the US to increase security in our hemisphere,” Ambassador LaGrange Johnson stated.
In expressing gratitude on behalf of the JDF and the Jamaican government, Major General Saunders, said that the vessels will be “used exclusively in the fight against illicit activities that threaten our borders.”
“We have been involved in Enduring Friendship for many years and are pleased to have partnered with the United States. We want to assure them that we are in this for the long haul,” he stated.
Enduring Friendship is a security initiative aimed at assisting partner nations to strengthen their operational capabilities to better anticipate and respond to drug trafficking and other illicit activities, and global threats such as terrorism and natural disasters.