Coast Guard will be fully deployed

It is the youngest of Belize’s uniformed services and if Dean makes even a close pass at Belize, the Coast Guard will be put to the test. But while the organisation may be new, its personnel are not.

Brig. Gen Cedric Borland, Commandant, Belize National Coastguard
“Our mission is to support NEMO, particularly with operations at sea which includes evacuations from the cayes, search and rescue, and relief support.”

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Whether or not Dean hits Belize, the Belize National Coastguard has been getting ready. On Saturday, eight of vessels will be deployed at strategic locations.

Brig. Gen Cedric Borland
“We will have one in San Pedro, one in Caye Caulker. In
addition to that, we’ll have a liaison officer working with their committees up there and then we’ll have two vessels assigned to assist in the evacuation. Our vessels will not be evacuating people but we’ll be supervising the evacuation. They will be on spot in case there is an emergency during the evacuation. The water taxis from those locations will be doing the evacuations.”

The coast guard will also have two vessels stationed at the base in Ladyville for other search and rescue missions.

Brig Gen. Cedric Borland
“So we will be out at sea starting tomorrow and if there is any request from any of these small islands out there, for assistance, we will be on the scene, ready to support. Since yesterday we have topped up with fuel, we’ve also replenished with our ration, with our food; so we are prepared to go.”

According to operations officer Leftenant Elton Bennett, it is expected that evacuations from San Pedro and Caye Caulker will commence as early as Saturday. He briefed us on the routes that will be used to transport people from the islands to Belize City.

Lt. Elton Bennett, Operations Officer, National Belize Coastguard
“Leaving from San Pedro at the gas station pier, moving west of Cangrejo Caye, west of Caye Caulker Caye, and through Porto Stuck and into Belize City at either Fort George pier or at the Tourism Village. Leaving from Caye Caulker, the pier near the police station, moving through Porto Stuck and into Belize City. These are the areas that people will be focussing on, patrolling in this area, ; ensuring safety of life at sea is adhered to, ensuring that the vessels are not overloaded, ensure that life jackets are available for passengers and ensuring the general safe handling of mariners during this evacuation.”

The coast guard which also has a dive team will also have another vessel deployed in Big Creek in the Stann Creek District.

Brig Gen. Cedric Borland
“I would just like to inform those out there— the mariners out— that we will be monitoring the channel sixteen, maritime radio. So if there is any need for emergency, they can contact us on the channel sixteen. In addition to that, there is the maritime emergency number which is 999, and that will go directly to the port authority and they will contact us. So that’s our means of communication during this period.

Since this morning the Belize National Coastguard recalled all of their employees who were on leave or vacation they are now getting ready for deployment over the weekend.