$35M to rehabilitate army flagship
Cabinet recently gave its no-objection to the award of a $35M contract to rehabilitate the GDFS Essequibo. The converted minesweeper was bought 11 years ago from Britain.
Commenting on the lifespan and usefulness of the ship, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, stressed that investments being made in the ship are for posterity.
“We couldn’t conceivably be investing US$173,086 and then mothballing it tomorrow.”
Luncheon stated that the ship played an important role in Guyana’s response to the needs of sister Caricom state, Grenada, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, eight years ago.
“I think we really shone. Our flag was really flying high. We took in troops; we took equipment and ordnance into Grenada. We were well received by the Grenadian population and the responses redound to our image, our benefit,” Dr. Luncheon noted.
Protection of Guyana’s marine resources was cited as one of the main reasons for continued investments to increase the lifespan of the ship.
“And now that we are talking about the exploration and likely exploitation of marine resources, oil and gas, I can’t believe that maintaining offshore military capabilities, naval capabilities, would be lost… they just don’t come cheap; it doesn’t come cheap.
“I would be the first to agree that it has not lived up to our total expectations, but I don’t believe that we must hang our heads in any shame or embarrassment. The GDFS Essequibo has been contributing to our image and contributes to the discharge of our responsibilities to our citizens and to the economic development,” he added.
Dr. Luncheon noted that adding more ships to the Coast Guard fleet would mean more expenditure in the defence sector.
“This is essentially what is needed in the light of what is happening with resources and expectations of our natural resources, both terrestrial and maritime,” he said.