For 28 years she patrolled the waters of Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean. Now the former flagship vessel of the Barbados Coast Guard, the MV TRIDENT, is but a memory, lying at the bottom of Carlisle Bay.
She was scuttled yesterday in the final leg of a journey that began 35 years ago.
The vessel arrived in Barbados in November 1981 and was commissioned three months later. Then known as HMBS TRIDENT, she, along with two other vessels, HMBS EXCELLENCE and HMBS ENTERPRISE, were deployed for offshore maritime law enforcement operations and search and rescue duties.
Her first major assignment 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 delivery of disaster relief supplies.
Her last major deployment was to Grenada 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 per cent of the island’s housing stock.
HMBS TRIDENT made three voyages to the Spice Isle to deliver relief supplies, including foodstuff, 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 yesterday.
It was a particularly poignant occasion for retired Lieutenant Lennox Carter, who, then an able seaman, sailed the TRIDENT on her maiden voyage from England to Barbados in 1981.
“I remember we were sailing from Suffolk to Portsmouth and we sailed through a storm. A trip which would normally take us four hours, took us just over 24 hours to make. And I remember the first time as a young sailor, seeing such big waves through the English Channel, you had waves breaking across the wheelhouse . . . . I wouldn’t say I was scared, I was just worried at the time.
“But the trip across, it was done in record time and it was one of the smoothest sailing trips that I have ever had,” he said.
Former Chief Petty Officer Ronald Kellman, who was also on that journey, noted that she weathered severe challenges from the beginning.
“We passed through a place called the roughest sea in the world, the Bay of Biscay. And a big container ship came in behind us and sank, and we sailed all the way to Barbados.”
It was also a bitter-sweet moment for former able-bodied seaman Trevor Peterson, who helped to 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 . . . . TRIDENT was one of the most beautiful ships at the time within the Caribbean,” Peterson told reporters.
The MV TRIDENT’s last commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Neville Springer said he could not miss the opportunity to say a final farewell.
“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, noting that she helped build the officers’ character as mariners in the Barbados Coast Guard.
The Executive Officer on the HMBS TRIDENT, Sub Lieutenant Shawn Hazelwood, would know, as he did his initial practical seamanship training on board the MV TRIDENT IN 2008.
“That would have been the first time I would have left land by sea for a protracted period of time and also over a protracted distance. From here we left and went to Grenada, we touched Carriacou, St Vincent, St Lucia,” Hazelwood told Barbados TODAY.
Yesterday was also a memorable occasion for him.
“It made you feel like a part of you has gone because you remember the initial training on her, and . . . shortly thereafter she would have been decommissioned so as far as I can remember I think my sea legs would have been the last one done on her,” he said.
Coast guard officers past and present, along with members of the media and other invited guests witnessed the scuttling from on board the MV 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 the MV TRIDENT took her final resting place at the bottom of Carlisle Bay.