The Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR) Coast Guard is currently deeply engaged in building capacity within the unit, which comes with new training and new equipment.

Updating MPs on the strengthening of the unit, National Security Minister Michael Weeks said: “Captain Jason Harrell was promoted to the role of Second in Command effective April 1, 2023.

“The filling of this role reduces the risk of having a single point of failure in respect of leadership, command, and access to institutional knowledge,” he added.

Since it was launched in February 2020, he said maritime security remains a “cross-government activity”.

“The Royal Bermuda Regiment continues to progress the operational capability via training, international assurance assessments, self- sustaining maintenance practices and routine operations,” said Mr Weeks.

“Four additional posts of Boatswain’s Mate will be filled by June 5th and a further thirteen part-time officers will be integrated into the Operational Support Diving section, three of whom are Advanced Open Water Divers,” he added.

“Notably of the thirteen part-time officers, seven are Bermuda Police Officers, evidencing the continued multi-agency partnership required for a strong and effective Coast Guard unit.”

Moving forward, he said: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard continues to evolve its engagement with the Blue Shield and has placed meaningful effort into expanding its operational footprint outward within the EEZ.

“To this end there is a continued focus on training and acquisition of modern equipment. Specifically, the team recently completed online training for UK Overseas Territory staff under the Blue Belt and Blue Belt Ocean Shield programmes. This fisheries enforcement training was accessed through the UK Marine Management Organization Learning Management System.

“Further, as with the land element of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Coast Guard engages in monthly training exercises, often with members of the international maritime community. Also, the Coast Guard engages in daily briefings on the Bermuda EEZ fishing vessel situational awareness with the United States Coast Guard 5th District and the Marine Management Organization.

“Officers continue to work towards certifications via participation in Royal Yachting Association courses. Between 2022 and 2023 officers successfully completed Royal Yachting Association Courses at both the individual and advanced instructor levels.

“In January, Operation Support Divers undertook training in Special Response Dive Physiology and Search Techniques with divers becoming Rescue Diver certified.”

Over the past year, he said training has been robust and far reaching, supplemental training events and activities during the period include:

  1. Attendance at the Maritime Security Conference in Miami
  2. St John’s Health Care Provider re-certification
  3. Multi-Agency Gold Incident Commander (Magic) Course
  4. Oil Spill Training
  5. Deep Dive Wreck Penetration
  6. Underwater Navigation, Body Bag Procedures, Search and Recovery; and
  7. Body Camera Training

On “the acquisition and upgrading of specialized tools and equipment”, he said “body camera commissioning was completed” in March.

“Operating procedures are currently being documented and finalized,” he added.

“Further, an Automated Identification System was acquired and testing is in progress.

“A Vessel Management System is in the process of being installed on the Coast Guard vessels for trial. The Vessel Management Systems provides for automated protocols to support the management and maintenance of the unit’s vessels,” said Mr Weeks.

He also noted that the Coast Guard “lends daily support in the enforcement of maritime law”.

“The Unit conducts on vessel inspections on safety equipment, monitors – vessel registration, speed limits in no wake zones, impaired driving and responds to emergencies on the water,” said the Minister.

“The Unit also undertakes regular day and night patrols of key fishing grounds and popular mooring locations as well as provides support for events on the water.”

In closing, he said: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard continues to work closely with and align with sister agencies to support the reduction of illicit activity via our waters.

“Warmer weather brings increased maritime activity,” said the Minister.

“Bermuda can be assured that our Coast Guard is well prepared and is growing in capacity and capability with a focus on standards, operations and a well-trained cadre of officers to monitor and protect our maritime environment and ensure the safety of all as we enjoy our summer season on, in and around Bermuda’s majestic water.”