Caribbean islands are assisted tremendously by the Regional Security System through the interdiction of illegal narcotics and arms, search and rescue, immigration control, fisheries protection as well as customs and excise control.
It is for this reason that, Deputy Executive Director of the RSS, Horace Kirton, said so much effort was being placed on the further development of the region’s maritime sector. He was at the time addressing graduates at the closing ceremony of the five-week Basic Seamanship course at the HMBS Pelican on Spring Garden.
Kirton noted that among the many deficiencies the sector faced, was the fact that only 59 per cent of RSS vessels were operational. Of the operational vessels, he added, a mere 11 per cent had been built with the capacity to operate in exclusive economic zone and beyond.
Gains from regional cooperation
In spite of all the deficiencies the RSS faced however, from 2001 to April 2013 the sector netted in excess of 90,000 pounds of cannabis, 15,400 kilograms of cocaine, and seized closed to US$3 million in currency. With the assistance of coast guard and marine units of member countries, they also seizures of 131 vessels, 11 vehicles and 618 persons.
Kirton also outlined the agency’s plans to better train and equip personnel to continue to protect and make the region safe.
“Our plan is a centred systemic training and the acquisition of vessels … compliment commensurate with the change of transnational maritime threats,” he said.
“Presently the RSS hopes to augment maritime capabilities with the attainment of a multi-purpose vessel. The RSS has ambitious plans for the development of our maritime section. The maritime … sector has a formidable impact on the sustainability of security within the RSS’s domain.”
A total of 21 seamen from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent participated in the training course. (KC)††††††††