September 2010 – Kamla Cancelled Offshore Patrol Vessels

“The country is not at war out in the seas; the country is at war on the ground, in our streets and in the towns of Trinidad and Tobago.”- Kamla Persad-Bissessar

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard is the largest naval unit of the English-speaking Caribbean and has responsibility for the security of the maritime domain of the Southernmost island of the Caribbean archipelago. It must contend with the trade in illegal narcotics and weapons that emanate from South America. The capability and operational efficacy of the TTCG, therefore, has a direct bearing on the ability to deter the shipment of such contraband. Additionally, the TTCG is responsible for the security of Trinidad and Tobago’s large off-shore oil and natural gas facilities and has the capability of conducting long-range humanitarian and disaster relief operations assistance to other Caribbean nations in post-disaster recovery.

Here’s the history…

In 2008, Austal signed a contract worth approximately US $73 million to build six 30 meter aluminum fast patrol craft for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago with additional contracts for a comprehensive maintenance package and crew training services.

The contract followed a similar Austal patrol boat series recently delivered to the Government of Kuwait, the Yemen Ministry of Defense, the Australian Customs Service and the New South Wales Water Police.

The patrol boats would have supported the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard in providing sustained surveillance in the country’s internal waters, the archipelagic territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone.

Each vessel, which was scheduled for delivery in 2010, would have had a 12 man crew, a maximum speed of 40 knots and would have been armed with three machine guns and a 20 mm cannon.

During the construction period at Austal’s facilities in Western Australia, Austal had begun a training program including familiarization with vessel operation, ship based engineer training and maintenance training for shore-based support personnel to Sailors of the TTCG.

It was the expectation that following delivery of the vessels, a five year comprehensive maintenance and support services program which would have included scheduled planned and preventative maintenance support, unscheduled maintenance, management and performance of annual surveys and maintenance periods as well as shore-based engineering support would have been provided.

The fast patrol craft would have played a major role in ensuring the safety of shipping, as well as the preservation of the marine environment. The vessels would have also targeted the illegal trafficking of drugs, safety at sea and perform search and rescue duties.

September 29th, 2010

These OPVs  which were ordered under the Patrick Manning administration for fighting the drug trade were subsequently cancelled by the Kamla-led UNC administration. An announcement made while Sailors from the TTCG were already in training on the vessels in Britain.

Three of those vessels – now with the Brazilian navy – had radar/sonar electronics, warfare armaments and interceptors, and onboard helipads.

Her own national security adviser and former national security minister at the time, Gary Griffith, admitted later that cancelling those OPVs was a big mistake.

When an OPV is out at sea, those committing illegal acts don’t know where our naval personnel are, thus there would have been a greater chance of stopping and ceasing illegal items before they have landed here.

The electronics on board the OPVs would have been able to “see” day and night. The chopper could have been launched at sea and followed suspicious vessels from the air and would have communicated with its base interceptors, again ensuring a greater chance of intercepting contraband.

The Damen Stan vessels didn’t have those capabilities and would have cost an arm and a leg to have them installed, if at all possible.

The OPVs would have been of much great assistance for search and rescue emergencies in natural disasters. For instance, when Dominica needed assistance after the hurricane, six-eight 20-foot shipping containers with supplies – food, water, medicals, emergency materials etc – as well as additional personnel (military and civilian) could have been placed on board the OPVs’ decks (they have their own cranes) instead of using a helicopter to carry six-eight large garbage bags of supplies, about four-five kilogrammes at best.

Again, something unachievable with the Damen Stans.

A horrible decision was made by the UNC led administration in cancelling those OPVs. Kamla did not care about our security nor sovereignty back then and presented herself as being a stranger to the truth. The Brazilians benefitted and are still benefitting. We lost and are still losing lives daily. Just think about how many guns would not have been able to enter T&T had those OPVs not been cancelled? How many lives could have been saved from gun-related violence?

Now more than ever, there are more drugs in our society, more guns on the streets and more violence.

5 comments on “September 2010 – Kamla Cancelled Offshore Patrol Vessels

  1. Anonymous on

    This something i supported from the start , when this lady and her people got rid of these vessels and equipment it was a bloody shock to me , could not of understand why such a stupid move knowing what was happening in our country , because common sense would tell you before the war reaches the land it enters through the sea , and to me that was pure donkey logic how can you not protect your country boarders know that there is an issue of serious concerns, here you are speaking of drugs,guns and any other thing that is destructive to your country and it’s people, then i started meditating on the subject and all i can find is, this movement was to allow her people who are involve in this trade free road , not forgetting her behavior in parliament while in opposition when Mr prime minister Patrick Manning was speaking on the topic of illegal drugs and gun trade, when he mentioned i know who is Mr big you all can’t fool me at all, the lady went into a frenzy very furious, rose to feet and started throwing tantrums , you know know who is Mr BIG , you know who is Mr big and this was a recurring decimal in parliament , any my question was what is she doing with a helipad at her home, now the crime has out of hand when this should of been curbed by you , just remember what she said during the campaign trail , if we are not elected back into government there will be blood on the land and we will make the country ungovernable for the government in power, now tell me does this sounds like a person for the country in which she lives or only about her people and their welfare .

    Reply
    • Anonymous on

      So blame Kamala she us the one responsible for all that is happening right now in our safe country. Kamala is the reason all these murders are taking place. Poor Keith Rowley just trying to clean up the mess she make and Imbert only trying to get back all the money .

      Reply
  2. Jason on

    I hold kamla and her administration responsible for our now very high crime,drugs and murder rate ,were intentionally cancelled for their drugs cartels and supporters of the corrupted UNC.

    Reply
  3. Love of country on

    This is why I always say stop play stupid with these politicians it’s time to tell them as it is in a respectable manner especially at public meetings, Wright is Wright wrong is wrong we have to voice out loud when they does stupidness no you backing them and the party or not it’s pure time to point out where they went wrong , let’s serious people , (let’s put them up )as the saying goes.

    Reply

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