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Feb 16, 2005

U.S. donates vessel for new Belize Coast Guard

Story PictureRight now it’s a coastguard in name only, an amalgamation of equipment and personnel put together from Police, BDF, Fisheries, Port Authority and other units involved in patrolling our far reaching waters. But come the new financial year those forces will begin to coalesce into a body that will hopefully live up to its name. Today the Belize Coast Guard got a leg up in the form of a thirty-nine foot high-powered pursuit vessel. The craft, belonging to what is called the Stinger class of boats, was donated by the United States Government. Refurbished at a cost of fifty-two thousand U.S. dollars, the former drug runner had her hull refinished and equipped with goodies like three two hundred horsepower engines, a five hundred gallon fuel tank, radar and radios. Where we will get the money to fill that fuel tank is another story, but there is no arguing with the fact that Belize cannot afford not to patrol its maritime frontier. Minister of Home Affairs Ralph Fonseca explained during ceremonies this evening at the Old Belize Marina.

Ralph Fonseca
?For many years Belize struggled to find the right formula to protect our sea spaces. For some years there has been much talk of developing a single maritime enforcement service charged with law enforcement, resource protection and safety at sea. The challenges remain many, but we are convinced that we are on the right course. We have pushed forward with the most significant milestone being crossed with the passage of the legislation establishing a coastguard service to Belize. Another milestone was reached two days ago when we appointed as project manager former BDF Commander General Cedric Borland, to assist with bringing this project to operational status as quickly as possible. Screening the sea approaches to Belize and controlling our sovereign spaces are important as most of the illicit drugs, illegal guns and illegal immigrants arrive in Belize from the sea. An efficient coastguard will contribute to a further drop in several categories of crime and make for more safety at sea in general.?

The presentation of the boat is one part of a larger project of cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard that involves training attachments aboard U.S. vessels and opportunities for Belizeans to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.


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