Governor General’s Visit to HMBS Coral Harbour Points to Full Circle 35 Years On

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Governor-General, Her Excellency, Dame Marguerite Pindling visits with Lieutenant Commander Whitfield Neely and members of the Officers Corps of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force at the conclusion of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force's Governor-General's Ceremonial Divisions Friday morning, February 13, 2015 at HMBS Coral Harbour.

HMBS, Coral Harbour Base — Officers and Senior and Junior Rates of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Friday paid tribute to their ceremonial Commander-in-Chief, Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling at HMBS Coral Harbour in what has become one of the greatest traditions in Bahamian Naval history.

The event, the occasion of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s Governor General’s Ceremonial Divisions, was full of the pomp and pageantry similar to that staged by British Naval Forces for the Royal Family.

Dame Marguerite’s visit was particularly special to the Force as her husband, the late Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling, is credited as being the architect of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. Sir Lynden served as Bahamian Prime Minister for 25 years.

Dame Marguerite’s visit coincides with the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Defence Force and the 30th anniversary since women were allowed entry into the Force.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Roderick Bowe, told Her Excellency that Friday’s visit brought the Force “full circle.”

“It is fitting that today’s Divisions were in your honour, Excellency, as Sir Lynden was the architect of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and now you are visiting us as Governor-General, and the ceremonial Commander-in-Chief of our Force.

“Today, we are able to provide you with an example of what Sir Lynden’s dream for this Force has materialized into, and we thank you and applaud you for your visit.”

Dame Marguerite said she was delighted to observe that “so many women” are playing vital roles in the development of the Force — an important aspect of her late husband’s vision for the Force.

“I am informed that women comprise about 16 per cent of the Force and have been fully integrated into all aspects of the organization. Women are playing their full roles alongside the men as senior officers, military divers, physical training instructors, engineers, cooks, airframe and power plant mechanics, infantry personnel, coxswains, emergency medical technicians, as well as pilots.

“In all of these areas you have raised the standards and provided the example for all Bahamian women by demonstrating the capacity to do anything and do it well. Your presence and your service are both noteworthy and commendable and I encourage you to serve faithfully alongside the men who will also benefit from your levels of good service,” Dame Marguerite added.

Her Excellency, who was accompanied to HMBS Coral Harbour Base by Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage, Minister of State for National Security, Senator, the Hon. Keith Bell and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Carl Smith, told the Officers and Senior and Junior Rates that the nation’s national security can only be enhanced “by the collaborative efforts of all who serve our nation.”

“You are worthy examples of how this can be done. As you continue to strive for excellence, I remind all in the Defence Force that, as a people, we can achieve the greatest successes when men and women commit themselves to working together.”

Dame Marguerite said the challenges which face The Bahamas, and which the Force is “charged” to combat – including poaching, illegal migration, human trafficking, narcotics and firearms trafficking – will continue to bombard the country for the foreseeable future, as with most nations.

“This nation is depending upon this Defence Force to deal effectively with these difficulties. In your thrusts to combat these evils, your personal and professional resolve will bring success. As you perform your important duties, I challenge you to remain committed to the principles of integrity, accountability, professionalism and devotion to duty.”

Her Excellency also applauded Commodore Bowe for his service as Commander, Defence Force.

“You have led this organization in achieving many unprecedented successes, the most recent being the largest promotion and recruitment exercises in the history of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. You and your executive team have set high standards and have clearly outlined strategic goals and objectives designed to meet the challenges and demands which accompany your responsibilities [and] I commend all of you for your vision [and] fortitude and for the outstanding efforts you continue to make,” Her Excellency added.

Captain Tellis Bethel, Deputy Commander, Defence Force -- Royal Bahamas Defence Force, presents Governor-General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling with a copy of his recently published book The Lucayan Sea; Birthplace of the Modern Americas at the conclusion of the Governor-General's Ceremonial Divisions Friday at Coral Harbour Base. The book is a sequel to Captain Bethel's first book: America, A Destiny Unveiled.