The first six of 40 state-of-the-art boats, to boost the capacity of the Marine Police to patrol the island's coastal waters, is expected in the island within the next eight weeks.
National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, who signed the US$5 million contract for the vessels at his Oxford Road office in Kingston this morning (May 12), said that the new boats, which serve as a upgrade of the police's 14-year-old fleet, would further assist in protecting Jamaica's borders and the country as a whole, from the effects of organized crime.
He said that intelligence reports indicate that "significant amount of guns, ammunition, and drugs are brought into the island through points on its coastline (and) there was need to ensure the protection of not only the life and means of citizens, but the harbours, the coastlines and tourism." The Marine Police has seized some 100 metric tonnes of illegal drugs since the start of the year, he said.
Dr. Phillips informed that the vessels, which would be delivered in batches, would be used in combination with the assets of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). "This is part of an overall plan, which is complemented by the efforts being made by the JDF coastguard, which has been equipped with offshore patrolling vessels for patrolling our waters," he pointed out.
The 17 and 27 footers in the fleet, will be used to cover harbour patrols, while the other vessels, will be able to go nearshore, along the coastline.
In his remarks, Head of the Marine Police, Superintendent Marlon Dietrich Bailey, said that the JCF was anxiously awaiting the delivery of the vessels, noting that the injection of resources would greatly enhance efforts to protect the coastline.
He said that plans were being put in place to improve the capacity of the JCF to operate the boats, so that the vessels could be used to their fullest potential.
Cordel Samuels, Managing Director of Jamaica Marine World, through whom the boats will be supplied, said that they were "equipped with the best new technology available and are specifically designed for government operations".
In addition, he noted, they would enable better management and supervision of activities in Jamaica's coastal waters.