Last Updated on Saturday, 13 March 2021, 22:06 by Denis Chabrol
President Irfaan Ali on Saturday announced that the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Coast Guard would before year-end be acquiring more Coast Guard vessels, and a team is set to leave for the United States (US) on Monday to examine what is available.
He said the team would leave on Monday to inspect the performance of Coast Guard vessels that have been manufactured by the US company, Metal Shark and “to analyse various marine asset options we have with the aim of us moving towards the acquisition of new marine assets to support our work in the Coast Guard.”
The President said the new Coast Guard vessels are expected “long before” year-end.
Once the flagship vessel, the converted British minesweeper, GDFS Essequibo formerly HMS Orwell, which was acquired in 2001 has been rendered unserviceable and so the army does not have any vessels that can patrol at certain distances and depths of the Exclusive Economic Zone.
He made the announcement at the commissioning of a new Bell 412 EPi helicopter that was purchased from the US-based Bell Helicopters for US$9.5 million.
The President stressed the importance of beefing up the GDF’s capability to protect its economic assets and prepare for new forms of crime. “We have to analyse the new requirement of our security sector, based on our development path. Indeed, we have a lot more economic assets to protect; we’ll have a large economy; we’ll have more sophisticated types of criminal activities to deal with and all of this requires a modern, forward-looking security architecture and that is what we are building,” he said.
Dr. Ali described the US as a “strategic partner” to help Guyana acquire those assets to build its defence mechanism backed by the “best diplomacy and the greatest of partnership.” “We have to have partnership; we have to recognise also that we have to have trusted partners,” he said.
US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch was among the invitees who witnessed the commissioning of the Bell 412 EPi helicopter.
The US Department of Defense has granted approval for Bell’s sale of the helicopter to Guyana.