Government’s newly-acquired coastal patrol vessel (CPV) CG 25, interceptor (vessel) and supply vessels for the Coast Guard are due to conduct their first coastal patrol training offshore from today, having completed yesterday a period of theoretical training onshore.
The CPV and interceptor along with two supply vessels to aid in border security, were delivered early last month .
The vessels were manufactured and delivered by Damen Shipyards in Holland and are currently docked at the Coast Guard headquarters, Staubles Bay. They will be formerly commissioned on August 27.
Trade, Industry and Communications Minister Vasant Bharath, who in the company of National Security Minister Brigadier Carl Alfonso yesterday toured the CPV, said the vessels were part of the People’s Partnership Government’s plan to strengthen border security and stop the illegal flow of guns, ammunition and drugs into the country.
The illegal activities, he noted, has put the country at risk.
Three more CPVs are to be delivered by year end, Bharath said.
However, another CPV will be delivered by August 20. That vessel will be commissioned via the internet since plans are in train to have it brought to TT from Holland by a Trinbagonian crew.
Lieutenant Commander Torinio Tracey, who conducted the tour, sailed with the Damen Shipyard crew that brought the first CPV to TT.
Along with the purchase of the naval vessels is a maintenance support system provided by the ship builders for a five-year period.
At present, a resident engineer from Damen was on board to assist with maintenance and to train locals to hand over the tasks at some point in time, Bharath said. The Coast Guard, he said has indicated that they were integrally involved in determining the specifications of the vessels that were bought.
“This is not what have been foisted upon them. This is something they believe will assist in the safety and security of the nation,” he said.
The total cost for the new fleet of 12 vessels that were ordered by the Government, he said, will cost $1.2 billion.
The entire fleet, he noted, will cost half of what was being paid for three Offshore Patrol Vessels ordered by the previous People’s National Movement administration and which were stopped by the current Persad-Bissessar-led administration.