The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla., once again called on Grand Turk after first visiting the island in March 2011. Resolute’s earlier port visit marked the first by a large Coast Guard cutter in more than three years, and the first large cutter to moor at the smaller government pier just north of Carnival’s Cruise Center facility. The Coast Guard’s patrol presence remains strong with its cutters, boats and aircraft prevalent as the region experiences consistent levels of illegal narcotics and migrant smuggling.
In cooperation with the government of the Turks & Caicos Islands and Port Authority, Grand Turk has become a regular port visit location for the cutters on patrol near the TCI, The Bahamas, and Hispaniola. The island’s beautiful water, miles of pristine beaches and the warm hospitality extended by the local residents continue to make Grand Turk one of the Coast Guard crew’s favorites in the Caribbean.
For this particular visit, the Resolute’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Samuel Jordan, hosted the recently appointed TCI Governor, His Excellency Damian “Ric” Todd, Police Commissioner Colin Farquhar, Deputy Police Commissioner Brad Sullivan, and the RTCIPF Marine Unit’s Acting Superintendent Pascal Bacchus aboard the cutter for a tour followed by a law enforcement discussion over lunch. During the tour, Jordan escorted the Governor throughout the ship, showing His Excellency the ship’s nearly 45-year-old engine room, and its two hi-tech smallboats capable of being launched at sea for high-speed intercepts of the go-fast vessels often used by narcotic smugglers.
The Resolute’s officers highlighted the law enforcement challenges they routinely faced in the region such as the constantly evolving practices that smugglers employ to transport their illicit cargos across international boundaries. In this regard, plans were made for future joint maritime operations between the Coast Guard and the RTCIPF Marine Unit that would complement the existing OPBAT (Operation Bahamas, Turks & Caicos) collaborative efforts involving the Coast Guard, U.S Drug Enforcement Administration and the law enforcement agencies of The Bahamas and the TCI.
Building on prior partnering events between the Coast Guard and the RTCIPF, the Marine Unit’s patrol craft, Sea Quest, arrived from Providenciales to participate in a scheduled professional exchange with the Resolute crew. Engineering experts and electronics technicians met to examine machinery, radars and navigation equipment while discussing best practices to optimize the performance of the equipment onboard the vessels. Specifically, training topics focused on subjects such as improving radar detection of smaller vessels and how to best maintain air conditioning and refrigeration equipment in the harsh marine environment.
Appreciative of the Sea Quest making the transit from Providenciales to join his crew in Grand Turk, Jordan commented, “The Coast Guard’s relationship with the RTCIPF is very important to us. We share several of the same missions including counter narcotics smuggling and search and rescue. The professional exchange strengthens the foundation for continued joint operations between our organizations as we work to bring security and safety to the maritime region.”
Once underway from Grand Turk, Resolute will resume its regional patrol before returning to its Florida homeport. The crew is already contemplating how long they will have to wait before they get another opportunity to visit the TCI, and replace their recent fond memories of Grand Turk.