National Security Minister Wayne Caines and Governor John Rankin jointly launched Bermuda’s first ever Coast Guard Unit on Thursday.
The Acting Commanding Officer Major Benjamin Beasley will oversee the new Unit in partnership with the BPS for the next year.
Events also included the formal opening of the Coast Guard Unit’s Command Centre at the Watford House building located at Malabar, Somerset. Police Commissioner Stephen Corbishley, Collector of Customs Lucinda Pearman and US Consul General Constance Dierman were among the dignitaries in attendance.
As a note all of the vessels in the new Bermuda Coast Guard are all refurbished boats and have been ensured seaworthy and ready for service.
“The Royal Bermuda Regiment plays a vital role in the protection, safety and unity of the country, and all of Bermuda should be proud of our soldiers and the service they provide to the people of this Country,” said Mr Caines.
“Today is a particularly proud day for Bermuda, for this Government and for the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
“The launch of the Bermuda Coast Guard is a significant milestone for us.
“It marks the start of the formal transition of the responsibility for Bermuda’s maritime security from the Bermuda Police Service to the Royal Bermuda Regiment,” he added.
“The Unit will operate jointly for a year under the operational control of the Bermuda Police Service to allow for the hiring and training of new members.
“The Unit will establish and maintain an in-shore Coast Guard in order to secure Bermuda’s Territorial waters initially out to 12 nautical miles and beyond depending on sea state and available assets.
“Members of the Unit will operate out of the Command Centre here at Watford House and provide a 24 hour on-duty capability during the summer boating season.
“The Unit will also have the ability to assist with marine distress incidents, oil spills or pollution incidents as well as provide support to Disaster Response Management.
“The Unit will participate in joint operations with Customs, Immigration, Fisheries, Marine and Ports, the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service and the Police Service to ensure maritime safety and security.
“The Coast Guard Unit will also provide support for key maritime events such as the Newport to Bermuda Race, the Round the Island Boat Race and other notable maritime activities.”
Moving forward, he said members of the new unit will receive “the very best training with both the US and UK Coast Guard”, as the new service evolves.
“The Unit will work towards the accreditation of the Command Centre, and we envisage that the Bermuda Coast Guard will eventually become the Centre of Excellence for the other Overseas Territories,” he said.
While thanking the men and women of the RBR for answering the call of service, the Minister also encouraged “individuals in the community who are looking for a dynamic and exciting career choice to consider joining the RBR which offers a wide range of options, now inclusive of Bermuda’s first ever Coast Guard”.
The Minister concluded: “I wish to once again congratulate all involved for ensuring the success of our new Coast Guard Unit and I wish all of our RBR soldiers nothing but success as you go about the business of watching over Bermuda and its people.”
Governor Rankin stated: “Ensuring the safety and security of Bermuda’s waters is a key part of my responsibilities as Governor, working together with the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Police Service and all of the island’s other maritime agencies and, of course, operating in close conjunction with the Minister of National Security and his team.
“The aim of establishing a Bermuda Coast Guard is of long standing and I am pleased that after a great deal of hard work we have got there.
“In the year ahead members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment and members of the Bermuda Police Service will operate together as members of the Bermuda Coast Guard. Their task will be to provide a 24-hour on-duty capability, helping to ensure security within Bermuda’s territorial waters, helping to ensure safety of all of those out on the water, including during boating season, providing assistance to those who may get into difficulties, and also responding to any accidents or oil spills or other pollution incidents that may occur, in order to protect this island’s environment,” he said.
“The Coast Guard Unit will also provide support and assistance during international sailing events, including the upcoming Newport to Bermuda Race, and will lend support to the Sea Cadets and the Endeavour Programme in helping Bermuda’s young people to develop their maritime skills and future opportunities, including I hope within the Coast Guard Unit.
“I am grateful to all those who have worked to bring the Bermuda Coast Guard into existence, including the members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the Bermuda Police Service. I am also grateful to the assistance provided by colleagues from the United Kingdom and would particularly acknowledge the work of Commander Marcus Jacques from the Royal Navy who is with us today and who I know will continue to offer support as the Coast Guard further develops its skills and capabilities.
“We are blessed to live on this island surrounded by our beautiful waters. The Bermuda Coast Guard will serve to protect and preserve those waters, helping to maintain the island’s compliance with international maritime regulations and helping to ensure that people in Bermuda, and those visiting Bermuda, can continue to travel through our waters safely.
“I pledge myself to continue to support the Coast Guard in its work. And most of all I thank all of the men and women who will serve in the Coast Guard. I wish them every success for the future.”
- Photos include: Governor John Rankin, Minister Wayne Caines, members of the Bermuda Coast Guard.