NASSAU, The Bahamas – Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling attended a Memorial Service of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in recognition of the tragedy of the Sinking of the HMBS Flamingo 36 years ago. The service took place at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Base at Coral Harbour on Tuesday morning, May 10, where the Governor General laid a wreath at the HMBS Flamingo Memorial Monument.
Minister of National Security the Hon. Dr. Bernard Nottage brought remarks at the special Morning Colors Ceremony. He addressed family members and friends of the four marines killed in action, and officers and marines of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
It was on May 10, 1980, after arresting two Cuban fishing vessels near the Ragged Island Chain, that Able Seaman Fenrick Sturrup, Marine Seaman Austin Rudolph Smith, Marine Seaman David Allison Tucker, and Marine Seaman Edward Arnold Williams were killed when Cuban MIG jets fired upon and sank HMBS Flamingo.
One of the 15 surviving crew members of HMBS Flamingo, Lieutenant Commander Whitfield Neely is still an active member of the Force, as the Commanding Officer of the Squadron Department.
The HMBS Flamingo incident was also remembered this week by CARICOM Foreign Ministers in their annual meeting in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, when they took note of the anniversary. Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell recalled the day and thanked the government of Jamaica for the role Jamaica played in settling the matter with Cuba. He said the incident which saw the tragic loss of life of four young marines in a force only six weeks old showed the necessity for diplomacy and the work of foreign ministries. Mr. Mitchell recalled President Raul Castro’s apology for the incident. CARICOM entered the names of the four marines into the record of the meeting as a mark of respect in their memory.