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Nov 28, 2008

32 Seaman Apprentices join the Coastguard

Story PictureBelize’s Coastguard was established back in 2005 to protect the integrity of our waters. It has bases at Hunting Caye, San Pedro, and its current headquarters is at the Williamson Hangar at the airport. A new headquarter is currently under construction at Belizean Beach at mile five on the Western Highway. To bolster its relatively small numbers, the Coastguard this morning welcomed its first intake of Seamen Apprentices after weeks of training. Jose Sanchez was present at today’s passing out ceremony.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
There were forty recruits in the first intake of the coastguard. Thirty-two of them completed the intensive twelve week training program. And they proudly marched in front of family and friends at the coast guard headquarters where they took an oath and are now officially Seaman Apprentices. Ensign Audibaldo Monima, the Coast Guard’s Training Officer, says that the training was intensive.

Ensign Audibaldo Monima, Training Officer, Coastguard
“First of all we have the four weeks whereby we transform from civilian into military men. That’s where we mold them into being very disciplined persons. Then we have the seaman part of it whereby they learn about boats, knots, ties, charts, nautical charts, and the different life of the seaman. Then we have the police law enforcement category whereby a team from the police training academy in Belmopan came down to this base and trained them about basic law. And finally, they had the O.J.T, on the job training, whereby we took them out at sea and they started working. It’s like a thesis; a two weeks thesis which they did.”

And out of the thirty two recruits, one was selected as the Champion recruit. Darwin McCulloch was selected as the best.

Darwin McCulloch, Seaman’s Apprentice, Belize Coastguard
“Here at the coast guard we go through a lot of physical training as well as weapons handling. We went through the laws of Belize and basically we get ourselves familiar with the boats and docking and stuff like that.”

Jose Sanchez
“How do you feel to be champion recruit?”

Darwin McCulloch
“It is an honour for me to be champion recruit, especially in the first intake of the coastguard. I must say I have to share this prize with all of my fellow seaman. They assisted me a lot; we had a lot of teamwork in all of this training. So I must say getting this champion recruit is really a good feeling.”

Jose Sanchez
“What inspired you to join the coastguard?”

Darwin McCulloch
“The inspiration came from just trying to get myself into something that is national; something in which I can dedicate myself to useful doing, be able to take care of our environment, our country and all its possessions.”

Ensign Audibaldo Monima,
“Now that they are seamen, they are very disciplined individuals. They are not considered to be civilians anymore; they are military men. The job will consist of basically the jobs that we do; search and rescue, they are going on anti-drug operations, they will be doing a lot of aid in natural disasters and hurricanes. For example, the flood in the Belize River Valley from the depression and the Crooked Tree flood. It’s going to be a lot of aiding people.”

Jose Sanchez
“Do you feel equipped to handle all the drug runners and the search and rescues?

Darwin McCulloch
“I must say yes. The training we get from our instructors they really provide us with all the knowledge and the first hand, not exactly first hand experience, but at least the scenarios we have to prepare for in those cases.”

The history of these Seaman Apprentices is yet to be written but today’s ceremony will certainly reflect the first batch of thirty-two more who swore to patrol and protect our waters. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Monima says they currently have nine forty-foot Columbian vessels at their disposal.

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