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Apr 12, 2010

Coast Guard gets new vessels to combat narco-trafficking

coast guard boatsThe police department uncovered fourteen parcels of suspected cocaine on Sunday on the island of Caye Caulker. The find is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to the amount of drugs that are shipped from South America on its way to the United States.  The United States Southern Command Counter drug program was established to help countries such as Belize fight against narco-traffickers.  On Saturday, the Southern Command donated approximately two million dollars worth of equipment to the Belize National Coastguard.  According to the second in command of the U.S. Embassy, J.A. Diffily, they intend to establish a regional security network of maritime patrollers by providing nations with improved high speed boats to improve their capability on the seas.

Captain John Borland, Commandant Belize National Coastguard

“This package presented before us valued at almost two million Belize dollars, is a mere reflection of the unparalleled support of the US Embassy in Belize, US Military Liaison office and the staff and the government of the United States to the Belize Coastguard and the people of Belize. while these assets will provide us with an unequal capacity to respond, track and intercept and interdict targets, they will also provide us with the crew protection and creature comforts  that will allow our patrols to focus on the mission and not just survive the elements as the current fleet of open boats do. These boats are extremely fast and maneuverable and are equipped with the very latest technology in navigation, surveillance and communication. They are ideally suited for maritime law enforcement but are capable of supporting various missions including search and rescue, environmental protection, fisheries protection, Ports security and migrant interdiction. In other words, these are national assets that will support, not only the Coast Guard missions, but all other agencies with a maritime interest.”

J.A. Diffily, Second in Command, U.S. Embassy

J.A. Diffily

J.A. Diffily

“The Coastguard is receiving two Boston Whaler three hundred-seventy justice series boats, valued at over eight hundred thousand Belize dollars each. The boats, which include three thousand two hundred and fifty horsepower mercury outboard engines, will be able to maneuver in coastal areas and maintain sustained high speed vector chases on open seas. They’re the ideal interdiction vessel. The boats come with a ten year limited hull warranty, a bow thruster, chart plotter with touch screen and GPS navigation equipment, radar, radios, shock mitigating seats plus each boat has a gun mouth. To enhance the capability of the boats, Coast Guard members will be receiving training on boat handling, boat maintenance and engineering. Additionally, the Coast Guard will receive fifty life vests, thirty tactical flotation vests and five pairs of night vision goggles valued at thirty-five thousand U.S. The night vision goggle will enable walking, driving, weapons firing, short range surveillance, map reading, maintenance and administering first aid in both moonlight and starlight. Essentially, Coastguard sailors will be able to operate in the dark.”

John Borland

John Borland

Captain John Borland

“What we see here is the first two in a series of five boats that we are scheduled to receive this year. the remaining boats include another justice boat, two safe boats and the complete package that will support the operation of these assets. These two justice boats are as equally remarkable as anything we’ve seen in this country before. We also know that the headquarters project is very near completion.”

J.A. Diffily

“As an old maritime person, I have to say these boats are really nice. Seven hundred and fifty horse power, they have good seats, the crew can get out of the weather and it even has a bow thruster to maneuver the bow around so they can  get it up to dock without banging the dock or having to fling the line out there. They’re just—they’re lovely. I’m very proud of this donation and of the strong bilateral partnership with the with the Belize National Coastguard.”

Captain Borland said that on Monday the Coastguard will be meeting with the army corps of engineers for the San Pedro base project which will be operating in a few months.

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