The Belize National Coast Guard moved into its new home today. Its address is Mile four on the Western Highway, where the new headquarters sits ideally to keep watch on the territorial waters and the ever present threat of transnational narco-trafficking and other crimes. The new headquarters was built with the assistance from the US southern command and today the inauguration attracted from ministers to diplomats to officers of the Coast Guard. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Five years ago a few brave men enlisted to become members of an elite team of mariners that would form Belize’s third officially recognized law enforcement agency. While their work is not as explicit as that of the police department they are nonetheless equally tasked with safeguarding the Jewel’s territorial sovereignty. Despite being the new kids on the block the Belize National Coast Guard has been receiving tremendous assistance in its effort to combat transnational crimes, more specifically the flow of drugs through the waters of our country. Today that outfit inaugurated its newly built headquarters near mile four and a half on the Western Highway.
John Borland, Captain, Belize Nat’l Coast Guard
“This state of the art facility will do wonders to approve our administration and operations. It is the pride of the coastguard and perhaps the most significant achievement to date while there have been so many other significant events in our development. In five years we have made some significant strides in growing our force in size, capacity, capability, competency and credibility. We’ve even discarded of our army standard of drill and adopted the coastguard standards as you’ve witnessed here today.”
Along with taking on new ideals was the building of this multimillion dollar structure designed and engineered by members of the United States Southern Command which will serve as the head office for the BNCG’s operations countrywide.
Rear Admiral Steven Ratti, United States Southern Command J3
“It was, as Captain Borland mentioned, was funded through the Department of Defense’s counter drug program at a cost of about four million dollars Belize in addition to future jetty and pier project being constructed through the Brazil Coast Guard and I have it on good; or the Belize Coast Guard and I have it on good authority that it should be completed by the end of June.”
The project which is being undertaken in two phases will also see the construction of a berth to be used for the launching and maintenance of coastguard vessels during maritime operations.
“This certainly is the beginning of our deepwater project. The jetty will be constructed with enough room to maneuver a truck and trailer at the end with a ramp to launch and recover vessels. It will accommodate four boats in the water and will be equipped with a jet dock to recover, service and repair vessels without bringing them on land. It will also have sufficient space to berth an eighty-seven foot boat safely.”
With all the talks of modernizing its operations the Belize National Coast Guard is still but a fledgling agency with a recruitment of one hundred and twenty-one men and women. Since its establishment in November 2005 it has been working diligently to set up outposts across the country, the first built on Calabash Caye in March of this year.
Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Nat’l Security
“When we have illegal fishing we work along with other maritime agencies like the Fisheries Department and the police to be out there so we are economic protectors of our resources. Again sometimes we think that the coastguard is purely military. It is not it is very civil and it is involved in the everyday life of the Belizean people and for that I would like to give them applause.”
The Belize National Coast Guard was stationed in Ladyville near the Philip Goldson International Airport where the change of command was handed over to Captain John Borland in 2009 before the organization found its permanent home near Belizean Beach. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.