The Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s fleet of short, medium and long-range seagoing assets has reached near double figures following the receipt of two new 40-foot coastal patrol boats. The boats were built at a cost of $1.6million.

The receipt of the two boats boosted the number of seagoing assets the Force has received over an eleven-month period to ten.

Minister of National Security, the Hon. Tommy Turnquest said the boats are part of the Government of The Bahamas’ strategy to “systematically remove constraints” from the capacity of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to counter transnational crime – including transnational organized crime – by providing the Force with the sea and air assets necessary for it to carry out its mandate.

He said those initiatives are especially focused on confronting the “significant” illegal drugs and gun trade in addition to human smuggling and illegal migration, which he said are having “serious implications for the unacceptable levels of crime and criminality in our country.”

The National Security Minister said the Force is expected to “soon take delivery” of two aircraft that have been purchased to assist it in its mission and mandate. He said the Force will be provided with additional seagoing assets as part of the Government’s “phased acquisition plan for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.”

“The Government’s objective is clear,” Mr. Turnquest said. “It is to equip the Defence Force to meet threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Bahamas and to guard our heritage.”

Mr. Turnquest said that given the country’s geographical location, many of the “significant threats” to the national security of The Bahamas “will always come from the sea.”

He said it is a fact that The Bahamas has its unique security challenges, many of them stemming from its proximity to the United States of America and the transnational criminal activity that targets that country.

The National Security Minister said while the acquisition and maintenance of sea and air assets are both “costly propositions for small states such as The Bahamas,” the Government is committed to ensuring that the sovereignty and territorial water of The Bahamas is protected.

“In late October of this year, the Commander of the Defence Force joined forces with the Commissioner of Police (Acting) in hosting the Joint Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Standing Committees for Commissioners of Police and Military Chiefs in New Providence. The Meeting stressed the importance of maritime assets to the protection of the countries of CARICOM,” Mr. Turnquest said.

“This is so notwithstanding that the acquisition and maintenance of such assets is a costly proposition for small states. The Bahamas knows this only too well. We also know that maritime assets, critical though they are, cannot in and of themselves remove danger from our seas and from our country. The vessels we have acquired, and will continue to acquire are but instruments in the hands of the Officers and Marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

“There are significant responsibilities and serious risks inherent in service in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force,” Mr. Turnquest continued, “let me express the confidence of the Government of The Bahamas that the Officers and Marines to whom we entrust P-44 and P-45, will ensure that they and the vessels they command are always up to the task of protecting our borders while guarding our heritage.”