NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Government of The Bahamas will do all that is necessary, legislatively, strategically and operationally, to guard and protect the heritage of those Bahamians alive today and those yet unborn from transnational criminal activity, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie vowed.
“In this vein, we must spare no effort at both the strategic and operational levels, to put an end to cross-border criminal activities such as illegal immigration, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and arms trafficking,” Mr. Christie said.
“Further, I believe by our initiative to continuously upgrade the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in every possible aspect, it is clear that we will do all that is within our powers to completely rid Bahamian waters of poachers and others who come from far and near seeking to take advantage of our God given resources.”
Delivering the keynote address at the Commissioning Ceremony for Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship (HMBS) Leon Livingstone Smith, the Prime Minister said The Bahamas must continue to build upon the foundation laid by the first Bahamian to serve as Commander, Defence Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and others, in order to find more effective and innovative ways of safeguarding Bahamian territory “from those who wish to engage in illicit maritime operations.”
Mr. Christie said the Government’s investment of $232 million into the Force’s ‘Sandy Bottom Project,’ is the clearest indication of its resolve in this regard.
The HMBS Leon L. Smith, is the third of nine patrol boats to be constructed for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force by the DAMEN Shipyard Group of Amsterdam under the Sandy Bottom Project.
“By the completion of the upgrades made under this Project, it is intended that all vulnerable areas of access into the southeastern corridors of The Bahamas will be fortified by the permanent presence of Defence Force assets,” Mr. Christie said.
The Government has already received dividends on its investment after the HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna, the first of the nine patrol boats to be commissioned, was able to successfully apprehend a vessel laden with 200 illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country.
The Defence Force will also maintain a permanent presence at “an equipped northern command in Grand Bahama.” This presence, coupled with the completion of the Satellite Base under construction at Gun Point, Ragged Island and an upgraded facility at Matthew Town, Inagua, will provide the Defence Force with the capability to respond to any and all threats to our national security.”