Jamaica’s law enforcement and Defence agencies will, by early next year, be equipped with 17 new patrol boats courtesy of the United States Government whose top diplomat here says the vessels will enhance the country’s ability to secure its maritime border.
The vessels, according to Ambassador Luis Moreno, form part of Washington’s assistance programme in the areas of security and disaster preparedness.
Ten 27-foot patrol vessels will be presented to the Police Marine Division, along with a boat maintenance facility at its Kingston headquarters, maintenance tools, and training.
Delivery of those boats, the US Embassy in Kingston said, is expected in August.
The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard will receive seven 37-foot patrol vessels either late this year or early 2016.
“These will be able to patrol the Jamaican coast, protect Jamaican coastal waters, protect fishermen, prevent drug smuggling, and prevent gun smuggling and trafficking in persons, Moreno said.
The boats are costing the American Government US$6.4 million. Funding, the Embassy said, is being provided through the Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Section, and the US Department of Defense.
The patrol vessels will most likely be welcomed by the Jamaican authorities as, despite years of effort, the island is still regarded by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) as the largest illicit producer and exporter of cannabis in Central America and the Caribbean.