The Royal Bahamas Defence Force welcomed two more vessels into its fleet Friday (August 15, 2008) following the commissioning of Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ships (HMBS) P-48 and P-49, providing the Force with a greater “operational presence” around The Bahamas.

One of the vessels had already been “stocked and provisioned” prior to the commissioning ceremonies, and was set to steam to Grand Bahama where it will conduct operations as part of the Northern Bahamas Fleet.

The two new boats bring the total of new vessels added to the RBDF Fleet to six within a two-week span, following the commissioning of four, 43-ft Interceptor Patrol Boats that were commissioned and put into service on Friday, August 1, 2008.

The four Interceptor Boats, along with four heavy-duty trucks, four trailers and a boat lift, were donated by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) under the Enduring Friendship Agreement. One of the Interceptor boats will also be deployed to the Northern Bahamas Fleet.

Minister of National Security the Hon. O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest said the commissioning of the two new vessels – both 48-foot Dauntless Vessels – confirm the Government’s commitment to upgrading and expanding the assets of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

“The new craft speak to the Government’s determination to narrow the gap between what we expect of the Defence Force and the Force’s capacity to deliver on those expectations,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“The new vessels are part of a phased package of assets which have begun to come on stream and that will enhance the capacity and effectiveness of the Force to discharge its seagoing mandate,” Mr. Turnquest added.

The National Security Minister said the Government and the people of The Bahamas have asked the RBDF to guard and protect the country’s vast marine territory with its porous borders that make the country vulnerable “to all manner of trans-national crime.”

Mr. Turnquest said it stands to reason, therefore, that “we must provide the Force with the seagoing assets to do what we ask of it.”

“The Defence Force is pledged to defend The Bahamas and will do so in those areas of our territorial water in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country is most under threat,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“The Bahamas continues to confront the decades-old threat of illegal activities which have caught our country up in the currents of trans-national crime. Traffickers in drugs, guns and humans into our country, and pillagers of our marine resources are committing criminal acts. Illegal firearms, in particular, have taken violent crime to a new level in our country.

“What happens in our maritime territory have far-reaching implications for public safety and security in our islands (while) trans-national crimes and other activities at sea – whether illegal trafficking or illegal migration – can have serious implications for in-state relations

“The acquisition of these two boats, in addition to the four 43-foot Interceptor Patrol boats that were recently commissioned and deployed and other assets that have been purchased and will be purchased in the near future, will assist the Defence Force in carrying out its mandate,” Mr. Turnquest added.