DOMINICA (May 31, 2012) – The United States is providing patrol boats and communications systems to nine Eastern Caribbean nations as part of a maritime security assistance initiative that aims to deter threats associated with transnational organized crime.
A delivery ceremony in Dominica May 31 marked the first official delivery of the program – part of an initial delivery package that also included similar provisions to Grenada and St. Lucia.
The initiative, called Secure Seas
, falls under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI)
, a regional security partnership initiative first announced by President Obama during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009. Secure Seas provides each nation with interceptor boats and associated equipment, state-of-the-art command and control communications systems and training and technical support.
The Secure Seas program is being managed by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), headquartered in Miami, Fla. The U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing the acquisition of the assets.
The boats will improve each nation’s ability to deter illicit trafficking in the maritime environments of the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean and enhance their capabilities to respond to other threats, maritime emergencies, and natural disasters.
Dignitaries attending the Dominica ceremony included Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Larry L. Palmer, and Marine Corps Forces South commander, Marine Maj. Gen. John M. Croley.
“Our government is grateful to the United States for the gift of these two modern, interdiction vessels,” said Skerrit. “To those who are bent on mischief… they may be able to run, but they will not be able to hide. We will catch you and subject you to the full
force of the laws of Dominica.”
The two Defender-class interceptor vessels delivered in Dominica are multi-mission capable platforms that can exceed speeds of 40 knots. Nearly identical to the boats used by the U.S. Coast Guard, they are ideal for law enforcement and maritime security. They can also conduct search and rescue missions and are capable of towing small vessels in distress and responding to environmental or natural disasters. The approximate value of the package is $2 million (U.S. dollars).
“The interceptor boats and installed communication systems will provide the country a distinct edge in detecting, tracking and pursuing suspects and will facilitate operational efficiency between nations,” said Palmer. “This maritime support package is only part of the long-term U.S. commitment to support and build the capacity of the national security of the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
“I am very proud to be able to stand here today with all of you as the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Dominica join together as part of a shared security partnership to address the transnational security challenges that face us all,” said Palmer.
SOUTHCOM officials expect Secure Seas deliveries and training to continue through 2012. The first round of deliveries included Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia. Successive deliveries will provide similar capabilities to Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Suriname.
The goal of Secure Seas is a regional maritime security assistance partnership with Central American and Caribbean nations that protects common maritime interests, prevents terrorist and criminal exploitation of transit routes, and prevails against terrorist and transnational threats in the maritime domain of the eighteen participating partner nations.