Army Chief, Brigadier Patrick West on Tuesday lauded the efforts of the Coast Guard Unit in combating piracy at the high seas.
During a Christmas Luncheon held at the Coast Guard’s Riverview, Georgetown base, the Chief-of -Staff, listed the active anti-piracy programme, improved familiarisation with internal rivers, and extensive training with officers of the Joint Services in riverain operations, among the unit’s achievement for 2017.
“We were able to dominate some areas which were not dominated before,” he added, noting that in the new year, steps will be taken for the GDF to support activities across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and continue to collaborate with their Argentine Naval counterparts.
Other projections for 2018, the Chief-of-Staff said, will be an increase in assets, and collaborative training with the British. There will also be a new floating base coming on stream and improvements to the New Amsterdam Base, so that the officers can patrol across the length and breadth of the coast, Brigadier West stated.
He told the gathering of soldiers that he is optimistic that next year, more Ocean Patrol Vessels can be procured through international efforts, “so we can go beyond the 12-mile limit “.
Earlier this year, President David Granger announced that the Coast Guard will be beefing up its capacity to provide security for offshore oil exploration and production, as well as clampdown on illegal activities, some of which “distort the economy.
As such, two boats, Metal Shark 38V Defiant Class vessels, were purchased by the government at a cost of G$140 million each, to aid the Coast Guard with their efforts.
At a time when Guyana is on the verge of becoming an oil-producing nation, the President said that it is important, now more than ever, that the Coast Guard be re-capitalised and equipped to effectively perform its functions.
“Our Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ] is the next new frontier of economic development. Petroleum exploration is now taking place apace in Guyana’s offshore waters. A number of foreign companies are engaged in this sector. The Coast Guard must be strengthened to provide greater security to investors in petroleum, fishing and other maritime activities.
“Guyana must continue to ensure the safety and security of its sea-lanes so that ships can enjoy safe passage within and throughout our waters. International trade, just like petroleum exploration, is a driver of economic development,” Granger added.
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