Border Protection Boosted
The first of four new law enforcement vessels has today, Friday, September 26, been officially named and launched into the water. The christening ceremony which was attended by around 50 dignitaries, law enforcement officials and other invited guests, marks the start of a new era for border protection in the Cayman Islands.
Following speeches by Hi Excellency, the Governor, Mr Kearney Gomez, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing, on behalf of Leader of Government Business, the Honorable Kurt Tibbetts JP and the Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr David George, Mrs Tibbetts, wife of Mr Kurt Tibbetts, officially christened 'Cayman Defender'.
The 38-foot Dauntless Ram is the first of four new vessels to be assigned to the joint Customs, Police, and for the first time, Immigration Marine Unit. The 671 thousand dollar fast patrol boat is part of a wider government investment package into border protection worth approximately 7.7 million. The package includes four new vessels and a state of the art marine base currently being built at the end of Hirst Road in Newlands to house customs, police and immigration officers.
Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr David George said the investment into border protection is extremely welcome and will go a long way in helping to prevent drugs and guns arriving in the Cayman Islands. "We know that illegal substances and firearms arrive here via the sea," he said. "The better equipped we are to protect the borders, the better equipped we are to ensure the safety and security of these Islands."
Manufactured by family owned Sea Ark in the United States, the boat is the product of 18-months hard work by the project team which includes Head of the Marine Unit, Inspector Brad Ebanks, Sergeant Shawn Bodden, Sergeant Clive Smith, Mr Peter Multon of the Public Works Department and Ms Reshma Sharma of the Legal Department.
"The team has worked extremely hard over the last year and a half to ensure that this project becomes a reality and the launch of "Defender' is the start of things to come," said project leader, Superintendent Mike Needham. "I thank the team for the extended hours of work and travel they have completed to ensure the arrival of this vessel."
Sea Ark, which also built Cayman Protector in back in 1994 and spent seven months on Cayman Defender, is also tasked with building the 65ft patrol boat, due for delivery in December. The final two 38-foot interceptors are due in January 2009 and are being built by Safe Boats International in the US.
The Marine Unit has been growing in strength and effectiveness over the last two years. Throughout 2007, efforts focused on equipping staff with the necessary skills and abilities to carry out their role effectively and officers completed a range specialist training in the area of border and maritime policing, notably with the British Navy.
Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.