Bahamas National Security Minister welcomes 74 new RBDF recruits
Nassau, The Bahamas — Seventy-four new marines were added to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) at the May 2 Passing out Ceremony at the Coral Harbour Base of New Entry 50 and Woman Entry 20.
National Security Minister the Hon. Dr. Bernard Nottage was in attendance and recognised the 49 males and 25 females as the largest entry in the history of the Defence Force to have successfully completed New Entry Training.
“Over the past 17 weeks since you entered the gates of HMBS Coral Harbour on the 12 January, you were exposed to both the theoretical and practical for 18 subject areas, which included professional areas such as Seamanship, Navigation, Small Arms, and First Aid as well as academic areas such as Mathematics and English. During training you were also taught the importance of discipline and character development. Additionally, you underwent a vigorous physical training programme. Together, these are all critical tools that form the foundation of your career in this military establishment.”
Dr. Nottage reminded the new marines that the RBDF currently patrols 100,000 square miles of sea and over 2,000 islands, rocks, and cays to ensure the safety and security of The Bahamas against transnational criminals and their illicit activities. He said the mission is a demanding one that calls on, and challenges every Officer and Marine to defend the sovereignty of The Bahamas, and assist with maintaining law and order. Dr. Nottage also mentioned the RBDF is known for performing humanitarian tasks in conjunction with local and regional partners.
He said the Defence Force’s decentralisation strategy remains a primary focus and that by establishing bases throughout The Bahamas, the Defence Force aims to maintain a continuous presence at strategic points throughout the Bahamian archipelago.
“This, we believe, will act as a deterrent against transnational maritime threats as well as enable the Defence Force to enhance its capacity to apprehend foreign poachers, illegal migrants, human traffickers, and drug and firearm smugglers, who seek to violate our laws and diminish our prospects for peace and prosperity,” said Dr. Nottage.
Dr Nottage said the Bahamas Government is currently looking forward to the rapid development of a base at Gun Point in Ragged Island and that this strategic location in the southern Bahamas will allow the Defence Force to maintain a constant presence in the Great Bahama Bank area where foreign poachers are known to plunder marine resources.
He said construction of the harbour is nearing completion to facilitate mailboats, as well as to accommodate the Defence Force’s 200-foot patrol craft. Plans are also being developed to construct a modern base facility, designed to accommodate up to 35 marines adjacent to the harbour.
Minister Nottage said the Defence Force is conducting strategic operations out of the island of Bimini, with the pending increases in boating activity in the Western Bahamas. He noted that the joint Port Security Operations with the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to facilitate ferries and cruise ships operating out of Florida have yielded positive results.
“The Government of The Bahamas is currently in negotiations with Damen Shipyards that is based in The Netherlands, for the acquisition of eight medium to long-range patrol vessels over the next three years with the first vessels scheduled to arrive in The Bahamas by mid-2014,” said Dr. Nottage.
“This acquisition will also include an auxiliary vessel to provide timely transport of emergency relief supplies to disaster-stricken areas around our archipelago, and the development of new and existing bases and harbour facilities at Coral Harbour, Mathew Town, Gun Point, Ragged Island and in the northern Bahamas.”
Dr Nottage said the Acquisition Project, also termed the Sandy Bottom Project, will support the Force’s decentralisation strategy and will significantly improve the Defence Force’s operational response time to maritime incidents.
“The Sandy Bottom Project will represent the single largest capital investment the Government of The Bahamas would have made in the 33year existence of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. In total, the project will cost approximately $200 million. In addition to the vessels and infrastructural assets I referred to earlier, it will provide employment opportunity for more than 800 new service members thus substantially increasing the manpower of the Defence Force from its current complement of 1154 to 1900 Officers and Marines over a three to four year period,” said Dr. Nottage.
Dr Nottage reminded the marines that as a sea-going force, all recruits are required to serve abroad sea-going patrol craft. He said the Force is required to detect, deter, and impede the flow of illegal immigration through our borders and are also expected to intervene and arrest those who poach in our waters, to assist with Search and Rescue operations, to support local and regional law enforcement partners, and provide relief assistance during times of disasters or national emergencies.
“As members of the Defence Force, you are leaders in your own right. You help set the standard of excellence for others to emulate. You are among our nation’s finest. You are a part of a flexible, dependable, adaptable, and dynamic organisation that consists of some of the most highly trained professionals of the modern Bahamas. I encourage you to wear your uniform with pride and maintain the highest standard of integrity and military bearing wherever you go on or off the job,” said Dr. Nottage.
Dr Nottage urged the newest members of the Force to be steadfast and confident in their abilities. He said it will not be easy, but with God, all things are possible.
“Your country is depending on you; your families are depending on you in fulfilling this great call to ‘Guard our Heritage’,” said Dr. Nottage.