New Base Will Allow Better Patrol Of Fishing Grounds
NASSAU, The Bahamas — The new base being developed at Gun Point in Ragged Island will allow the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to maintain a constant presence in the Great Bahama Bank area, Minister of National Security O.A.T. “Tommy” Turnquest said.
The Base is expected to become operational later this year. The Great Bahama Bank is one of the country’s “richest fishing grounds.”
Minister Turnquest said the construction of the harbour is nearing completion, and will possess the capacity to accommodate the Defence Force’s 200-foot patrol craft, in addition to being able to facilitate mail boats. The Base Facility will also be able to accommodate up to 35 marines.
“The Force’s decentralisation strategy demands an increase in its human capital and operational assets,” Mr. Turnquest said. “The Government of The Bahamas will continue to invest in the personnel and assets of the Defence Force. We will continue to focus on local and international military training in the areas of leadership and management, as well as professional and technical skills development.
“Substantial investment in new vessels and other physical assets and on-going recruitment of marines will ensure the continued growth and development of the Force as it modernises its operational and administrative capacity to successfully combat threats to national security,” Mr. Turnquest added.
Mr. Turnquest said the decentralisation of the Defence Force remains a primary focus for the Government and includes plans to continue to develop bases in Grand Bahama and Inagua, in addition to sub-bases in Abaco and Exuma.
“These bases allow the realisation of the Defence Force’s aim to maintain a continuous presence at strategic choke-points throughout our archipelago. They act as a deterrent and enhance our capacity to apprehend those who seek to violate our laws and diminish our prospects for peace and prosperity,” Mr. Turnquest added.
The National Security Minister said the Government is pleased with the “positive direction” in which the Defence Force is heading.
“The archipelagic nature of our country makes the management of our borders and the protection of our shores very challenging,” Mr. Turnquest said. “Notwithstanding those challenges, (The Royal Bahamas Defence Force has) continued to patrol the waters of The Bahamas to deter and apprehend illegal migrants, as well as foreign poachers of our marine resources, and those engaged in drug trafficking and illegal firearms smuggling.
Mr. Turnquest said the government is aware of the needs to increase the number of Officers and Marines (1,103) currently serving on the Force, in addition to increasing the number of females. This, he said, will be done through the recruitment of qualified young Bahamian men and women.
“There are currently 62 recruits in training, who, if successful, will join the regular Defence Force in June of this year. There will be a further recruitment squad in July of this year, and the Defence Force has been mandated to target schools across The Bahamas aimed at enlisting both males and females. The Defence Force currently has a staff complement of approximately 18 percent women and it is the goal of this Government to see the percentage of women increased to 25 percent over the next five years,” Mr. Turnquest added.
By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services