More numbers added to the Belize National Coast Guard
There are new recruits to boost the numbers of the six year old Belize National Coastguard which is charged with the maritime safety and security of the Jewel. This morning, at the Williamson Complex in Ladyville, the newest intake of sailors officially joined the coastguard. The male and female recruits went through rigorous training to be able to don the traditional white uniform. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports on today’s passing out ceremony.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
It was full pomp and circumstance as thirty-six of the Belize National Coast Guard’s recruit intake number three marched out in crisp white uniforms, polished shoes and faces showing courage, commitment and pride. The graduating class of thirty-three males and three females marched out in unison and stood at attention for the arrival of the dignitaries. The bearers of the presentation of colours stood at the front line. The symbolic and customary inspection of the recruits was carried out by Governor General. The importance of the Belize National Coast Guard and the significance new recruits were highlighted by Minister of Defence, Carlos Perdomo:
Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Defence
“The contributions made by the Coast Guard to our maritime safety and maritime security are paramount in providing stability not only for the people but stability for our economic growth and for the well-being of the nation. The Coast Guard continues maturing into a national service for our national security and they do this through strategic development, focusing on human resources like the recruits in front of us and infrastructure development.”
But inorder to properly safeguard the maritime spaces of Belize, the new recruits had to complete weeks of intense training. The display of elements of the Basic Fitness Test of the Seamen Apprentices shows rigidity of preparation and the importance of team work. In short, Acting Commandant, Commander Elton Bennet says the apprentices are ready for anything:
Acting Commandant, Commander Elton Bennet
“It was a long process. The recruiting process started with five hundred applications, we narrowed that down to two hundred to come and sit the exam and eventually, forty of those were selected to form up for training. Today we pass out thirty-six. The training lasted for three months. It included maritime law enforcement, breaking into military life and fisheries enforcement and other law enforcement. As mentioned, they will be on a one year seaman apprenticeship programme. They will under study a senior coast guard officer and they will be employed in the operational field. Every single one of the recruits passing out today will join an operational detachment, which mean they go to sea on a routine basis for two weeks and come back in and do additional duties.”
Of the thirty-six new recruits, four were recognized, including Champion Recruit, Glen Noh and Best Female Recruit, Melissa Jones:
Glen Noh, Champion Recruit
“The training was hard, difficult; it took dedication, it took a lot of physical endurance, mentality. It was a mind game then, like my Lieutenant Junior Grade said, pain is only weakness leaving the body. So we had to carry on.”
“So why did you decide to be a part of the Belize National Coast Guard?”
“I made up my mind, I have had a passion for this job and I like the seas, so of course I want to protect our resources and that is the reason why I am here.”
“You’re named Champion Recruit, what does this mean for you personally?”
“Umm, it really took hard and dedication and had to be ambitious to gain it and it took sleepless nights but here I am and I feel proud of myself and I feel really proud of the entire Recruit Intake Number Three because all of them did well also.”
Melissa Jones, Best Female Recruit
“The past couple of months the training was intense but I managed to keep up with it and as the day goes by I thank the Lord he wakes me up and gives me the courage and strength to go on.”
“You were named the best female, how did you do this, really, because the training seems very intense?”
“Yes indeed the training is very intense but what keeps me going is that I put myself to compete with the other males, which in we all do the same, training and everything but I always say, if I can do better than two or three of them, then I’ll feel much better so that’s what keeps me going.”
And for these apprentices, the true tests are yet to come:
“Your character must be built and your personal integrity to do what is morally and ethically right in the face of compromise or in the face of offers. There will be occasions when you will face difficulties in executing your duties, you will be put out of your comfort zone but, nevertheless, you will be expected to perform and serve your people.”
Following the one year apprenticeship, the recruits will be promoted to the rank of seamen and qualify as independent engineers as members of the team, or a boarding team member of the Belize National Coast Guard. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.
The other two recruits recognized today are, Roylee Flowers as the Best Swimmer and Godfrey Alford who was named Champion PT.