The Belize Coast Guard plans to establish two more bases - one at northern Ambergris Caye, and another at Big Creek, it was disclosed.
Coast Guard builds forward base at Calabash!
Friday, 07 December 2007

By Niall Gillett - News Editor

General Cedrick Borland (L) seen here with Ismael Cal and Leonardo Hill in groundbreaking ceremony on Calabash Caye, Turneff Islands Range.

Established just 2 years ago on November 28, the Belize Coast Guard (B.C.G) has been making impressive headway in carrying out its mission of "Safety, Security, and Protection."

Its newest accomplishment on December 5, 2007, was the breaking of ground on Calabash Caye for the construction of a new Forward Operational Base.

Generously funded by the United States and the Belize governments at a cost of about one million US dollars, this 14-acre base will create an ideal central location for future seaward operations.

Coast Guard Commanding Officer Cedrick Borland told Reporter that the new base, so long awaited, will "enhance Coast Guard efficiency." The Belize Coast Guard has always used Calabash Caye for operations, but it has never had adequate logistical support, and the officers patrolling in that area had to "rough it" - eating out of cans, sleeping in camps with nets, and without proper bathroom facilities.

"As the growth of Belize's economy develops, so must the level of security," Borland said.

At the ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, Leonard Hill, said that the US was pleased to be able to support this project.

Asked what impact this new forward base is likely to have on the flow of drugs heading North to the United States, Hill replied:

"It is hard to tell... unless you have total intelligence you cannot really know everything that is going on. But definitely it will have a deterrent effect."

From the US perspective, the establishment of the forward base at Calabash Caye is not just about law enforcement, but also about safety and protection by addressing environmental issues, and providing search and rescue services, the embassy official said.

The Belize Coast Guard plans to establish two more bases - one at northern Ambergris Caye, and another at Big Creek, it was disclosed.

It has also has plans for new headquarters, which are to be located somewhere near Belizean Beach on the Western Highway.

And to extend its reach to the high seas beyond the reef, the Coast Guard is trying to acquire a larger vessel as well as its own air support for search and rescue and interdiction purposes.

The Belize Coast Guard has an active force of 56 men and commands a small fleet of eight boats for deployment.

It expects its new base at Calabash Caye to be completed the end of next year.

Calabash Caye is the second largest island of the Turneffe Island range, and lies some 35 miles east-southeast of Belize City, on the outer fringe of the reef.