Last night, we showed you how the Belize Defense Force got a donation of 2 Land Rovers to assist with patrols. Well, today it was the Belize Coast Guard who received several pieces of equipment. These include inflatable boats, and other tactical and safety equipment. The Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard Admiral John Borland told us how all this gear will enhance safety and preparedness.

Admiral John Borland, Commandant - Belize Coast Guard
"The equipment you see here laid out is part of the enduring friendship program, the partnership that we have with the United States Government Southern Command and State Department INL under which most of the equipment you see displayed today came from. There are a variety of equipment raging from zodiac tactical boats that are mainly going to be employed by the seals for tactical operations. There are life jackets. There is 200 of them on display. They are going to be issued to the fleet. The fleet are the people who do the work on a daily basis, they go to sea every day, so they need the best equipment that we have. The foul weather gear is also going to be issued to the fleet. There are 200 sets and they are going to be use whenever the fleets on operations in foul weather. Foul weather means inclement weather or bad weather. The better you take care of a man under inclement conditions, the better he will operate."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Tell us how significant these pieces of equipment are to the fleet and of course the entire Coast Guard?"

Admiral John Borland, Commandant - Belize Coast Guard
"Extremely significant. We operate in a very fluid and unforgiving environment. The men are always at risk, always at peril especially in bad sea conditions. When the men are out there ill prepared is risk they are taking. They are risking their lives and they do this for their country. So it is imperative that we as their commanders ensure that they have the very best equipment to work out there with."

"This equipment is very hard to come by and not to mention how expensive it is. So its seriously welcome opportunity and we embrace everything that is gifted here by INL or by Southern Command here today."

George Lovell, CEO, Ministry of National Security
"The Coast Guard have been privilege to have these large Boston Whalers and fast boats and when you look at the engine that they have behind these vessels, not only the engine, the draft that these vessels have - it's certainly restrict the number of time that we would have to employ them in a way that we would like to employ them. It also limits and restrict the areas in which they can operate. These 8 zodiacs and these 200 life jackets and the foul weather gears, will certainly be able to help them to be out there in adverse weather and be able to transit all those shallow areas that are after experience in northern San Pedro, Bachalar Chico area and these mangroves area where the large Boston Whalers and fast boats cannot transit - they will now be able to operate in these areas and to be a little bit more effective."

Now aside from officer safety, this equipment will also greatly improve maritime operations. Of course this includes stopping the prevalent transitional crimes such as drug trafficking and human smuggling. CEO in the Ministry of National Security George Lovell explained how this donation will enhance efficiency.

George Lovell, CEO, Ministry of National Security
"We can never do as well as we would want to do, but we are working diligently and every moment we get we try to enhance the capacity that we have to effectively combat transnational crime. As you do know that there are trends that constantly change on us. As soon as we get to a certain level of efficiency, sometimes it switch on us and we would start all over again. So it's an ever changing, ever evolving operations that we are doing. We believe that with the resources that we have, we are as effective as we can be today. But as you note in my remarks that I gave earlier, our intent is to be a little more effective as we go beyond just the coastal areas, but into out exclusive economic zones and into our entire maritime space that we have. We are looking forward to get these large patrols crafts which hopefully will be able to give us the type of platform from which we can have more sustained and lengthy operations from which small boats like zodiacs will be able to deploy from on that mother ship concept that we intend to do."

The cost of this donation is over $500,000. The Coast Guard also received laptops and surveillance equipment which are already in use.

Channel 7


US Embassy donates Boats and Gear to Belize Coast Guard

Two significant donations were made today by the US Government. We start with the Belize Coast Guard which received a variety of equipment to bolster operations of national security in the fight against transnational crime. At this afternoon’s ceremony it was announced that Belize will be spending twenty-six million dollars for the acquisition of two boats for the coast guard. Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

A million U.S. dollars worth of zodiacs and foul weather gear equipment was handed over to the Belize National Coast Guard today at its headquarters near mile four on the George Price Highway. The hefty donation is a gift from the U.S. Embassy in Belize to assist the local naval unit with anti-crime operations in Belize maritime areas.

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“This represents the continuation of the fine relationship between the United States and the Government of Belize as it affects the coast guard. The relationship goes back to 2010 with the creation of the Belize Coast Guard and the provision of the vessels and so forth. Today represents the donation of about eight zodiac floatable vessels, two hundred life vests, an equal number of rain protective gear, outboard motors and so forth. It is also a reflection of the level of cooperation between both governments in terms of providing for the national security and boarder protection of Belize.”

The equipment, according to Rear Admiral John Borland, will be used immediately by the seals and fleet units of the coast guard.

John Borland

Rear Admiral John Borland, Commander, Belize National Coast Guard

“There are a variety of equipment ranging from zodiac tactical boats that are mainly going to be employed by the seals for tactical operations. There are life jackets—two hundred of them on display; those are going to be issued to the fleet. They are the people who do the work on a daily basis; they go to the sea everyday so they need the best equipment we have. The foul weather gear is also going to be issued to the fleet. There are two hundred sets and they are   going to be used whenever the fleet’s on operation in foul weather. Foul weather means inclement weather or bad weather. The better you take care of a man under inclement conditions, the better they will operate. What you don’t see on display because they are already in use are the tactical gear which are the body armor, the tactical floatation devices, the night observation devices and surveillance cameras and laptop computer equipments.”

Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“These eight zodiacs and two hundred life jackets and foul weather gears will help them to be able to be out there in adverse weather and to be able to transit all those shallow areas that are often experienced in northern San Pedro, Bacalar Chico area and these mangrove areas where these Boston Wailers and fast boats cannot transit. They will now be able to operate in these areas and to be a little more effective. So this will bring more efficiency and effectiveness to the operations that the coast guard does.”

Recently, there was a shootout between a coastguard patrol and suspected drug smugglers in northern San Pedro Ambergris Caye and according to officials; the coastguard has been efficient in dealing with transnational crimes in Belizean waters. According to C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security, Retired Colonel George Lovell, the government of Belize, through a CABEI Loan, has already approved over twenty-six million dollars to acquire two large boats for the Coast Guard.

George Lovell

Ret. Col. George Lovell

“We are looking forward to get these large patrol crafts which hopefully will be able to give us this sort of platform from which we could have more sustained and lengthy operations from which small boats like the zodiacs will be able to deploy from and that mothership concept that we intend to do. We have been talking with our Mexican friends and things are looking good for us. But it is not just the acquisition of these assets; we must look at the sustenance and maintenance of these vessels as we get them if we are to be effective once we have acquired these vessels. Just the acquisition will cost us some thirteen or so…and I am saying or so because we are still trying to negotiate cost, U.S. million dollars. That’s just the acquisition and then you look at the annual sustainability of the vessel which again will be in the millions of dollars. I want to appeal to all our partners and those who are already engaged with us in discussion and those who are not to look at this as a capacity building effort—not just for Belize, but for regional security initiative within this region.”

These vessels, says C.E.O. Lovell are expected by the end of 2016 or early 2017. Duane Moody for News Five.

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