by Marie-Claire Williams
The Barbados Coast Guard today bade farewell to its former flagship vessel, MV Trident in a brief ceremony at Carlisle Bay this morning.
The vessel arrived in Barbados in November 1981 and was commissioned three months later. She was deployed for maritime law enforcement operations and search and rescue duties throughout the Caribbean.
The first major operation was to Grenada to participate in ‘Operation Urgent Fury’, which was launched by the United States following the murder of the then prime minister Maurice Bishop and several members of his cabinet.
For several years the Trident also served as a training vessel for courses of the Regional Security System (RSS) until the maritime training school was opened in Antigua and Barbuda.
The ship also led coordinated maritime patrols of the RSS, which included law enforcement as well as the delivery of disaster relief supplies.
Her last major deployment to Grenada was in 2004 following the passage of Hurricane Ivan.
The powerful category three storm, which made landfall in St George’s on September 9th, claimed at least 15 lives and wiped out 90 percent of the island’s housing stock. No one was spared the devastation, and Prime Minister Keith Mitchell was forced to relocate to a Royal Navy vessel in port after his home was destroyed.
HMBS Trident made three voyages to the Spice Isle to deliver relief supplies including foodstuffs, medical supplies and equipment and oxygen for the island’s main hospital.
She took with her the memories of these and countless other missions when she sunk to the bottom of Carlisle Bay this morning.
It was an emotional moment for some of her former crew members who witnessed her final moments, among them her last commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Neville Springer.
“I took the opportunity to come and see her before she was brought out to be scuttled and it wasn’t a nice experience either because in terms of preparing her to go down you had to move a lot of the materials that would not be environmentally friendly.
“And that was a significant part of the interior architecture of the vessel. And once that [was] removed she didn’t look the same… it was just a big open space which isn’t what we were used to,” Springer said.
It was also a bitter-sweet moment for former able-bodied seaman Trevor Peterson, who helped name the vessel.
“I am the person who submitted the name to the acting Chief of Staff at the time, which was a competition we held at the Ministry of Defence at the time.
“It’s a sad day for me to see such a beautiful ship because Trident is a war ship. And I know the history of Trident I was an engineer on Trident… but Trident was one of the most beautiful ships at the time within the Caribbean,” Peterson told reporters at the Coast Guard base, HMBS Pelican, shortly before departing for Carlisle Bay.
Peterson, along with his colleagues, current coast guard officers, members of the media and other invited guests witnessed the scuttling from on board the Trident’s successor the HMBS Trident.
Other officials gathered at the Bay Street Esplanade to view the event, which was held in collaboration with the Coastal Zone Management Unit.
Shortly before midday today the MV Trident joined several other ships in taking her final resting place at the bottom of Carlisle Bay. (MCW)