In a bid to improve its patrols of the waterways, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard yesterday officially com-missioned two Metal Shark vessels, worth approxi-mately $140 million each, with President David Granger doing the honours.
“Guyana must continue to ensure the safety of our sea lane so that ships can enjoy safe passage within and through our waters. Guyana, being an export-oriented country has to ensure that our sea lane is secured. The repletion of our shipping industry has been threatened by the abuse of our waters from the transshipment of nar-cotics and the smuggling of contraband,” Granger said yesterday at the Guyana Coast Guard Ship Hinds before commission-ing the two 38-ft vessels.
He charged members of the Coast Guard to protect the integrity of the waters and clamp down on illegal activities that have been depriving the country of revenue and ruining its reputation as a safe destination for investors.
“Our territorial waters are extensive,” the Presi-dent noted. “It is easy for vessels to discharge contraband and transport it. It therefore means that the Coast Guard must be equipped, must have the capability to respond to emergencies within our waters including the responsibility to conduct search and rescue missions at sea. The Coast Guard therefore needs a stronger and larger fleet of vessels.” Granger assured the GDF that his administration is doing everything possible to ensure that the Coast Guard is well equipped to effectively discharge its functions.
He said the two vessels are essential for national security and are intended to improve the capabilities of the state to protect its resources and to provide greater assurance to the citizens, fisher-folk and investors.
He added that the government is confident that the Coast Guard has the will to remain in the forefront to prevent illegal activities in the rivers and maritime waters. “It will receive our support to suppress all illegal activi-ties including poaching, fuel smuggling and piracy. It will receive our support to suppress and prevent narcotics trafficking and all other forms of maritime illegality and in this regard I congratulate the Coast Guard for its success,” he said.
He added that the protection of Guyana’s territorial waters is vital to the protection of the coun-try’s marine assets, the prevention of transnational crime and for the promo-tion of international and coast trade, as such the Coast Guard must ensure that the territorial waters are secure.
The two brand-new 38-feet Metal Shark vessels were specially designed for Guyana, each has the capacity to fit 18 persons and will operate with a crew of six. Each vessel is also equipped with three 300 Yamaha outboard engines which can take it up to a top speed of 50 knots, giving it the ability to chase down almost any vessel that traverses Guyana’s waters.
The two additional vessels now bring the Coast Guard fleet to seven, making it more equipped to stay out in the water longer while providing the crew with more comfort.
After commissioning the two vessels, the Coast Guard took them on a test run up and down the Demerara River where they displayed their forma-tions.
Metal Shark is a leading US-based supplier of custom vessels for com-mercial, defence and law enforcement applications worldwide.