Address by the MHPM Andrew Holness at the Naming and Commissioning Ceremony of HMJS Cornwall and HMJS Middlesex 

Photo: JIS Photographer Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Michael Holness, O.N., M.P.

Story Highlights

  • As we put in place strategies to secure Jamaica; as the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, I stand here today to witness the naming and commissioning of these two new COUNTY CLASS patrol vessels. This is a significant step as a part of Jamaica’s integrated and comprehensive set of measures and actions to significantly and sustainably reduce crime in our country.
  • Illicit drug activities fuel violence unlike any other criminal activity. The trafficking in small arms and ammunition throughout the region is more prevalent amongst some states than others. Guns are a weapon of choice for crimes in Jamaica, yet none are manufactured here.
  • The addition of the maritime patrol aircraft in short order will also significantly enhance the unit’s capability to detect and monitor any activity as required. Local and international persons can be assured of the enhanced response capability when navigating in Jamaican waters.

As we put in place strategies to secure Jamaica; as the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, I stand here today to witness the naming and commissioning of these two new COUNTY CLASS patrol vessels. This is a significant step as a part of Jamaica’s integrated and comprehensive set of measures and actions to significantly and sustainably reduce crime in our country.

Strengthening border control and maintaining territorial integrity is integral to our national security imperatives.

All nations have a significant interest in detecting and monitoring suspect traffic in the air, sea and land domains and Jamaica is no exception.

Our maritime domain is significantly larger than our land domain – with over 1000 kilometers of open coastline and a maritime exclusion zone of over 25 times the size of our land mass.

It is well known that Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) improves a country’s ability to:
o counter illicit trafficking,
o conduct humanitarian assistance,
o lead to better environmental management,
o ensure better disaster response,
o guide military, search and rescue operations.

Jamaica is strategically positioned and our maritime industry is being further developed to take advantage of this.

We are paying close attention to training persons for the sector with the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) which will now gain university status, expanding to further contribute to national growth and development.

The CMI will facilitate training and certification for personnel to be employed within organizations engaged in the Jamaica Logistics Hub and the Special Economic Zones. We are also paying close attention to developing our ports and expanding our cruise ship arrivals.

It is an integrated approach to securing Jamaica’s inclusive growth and prosperity. All sectors must work in tandem, all areas must be comprehensively addressed.

The Caribbean; with Jamaica uniquely placed, dominates the vital Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) connected to one of the world’s major navigation choke points; the Panama Canal. The efforts of the Caribbean region to attain maritime domain awareness therefore have significant implications not only for its own national security and economic stability but also for its strategic partners and neighbours in the hemisphere. The location of the Sea lanes around and near Jamaica will remain strategically important to the region and is relevant in any discussion of the region’s security.

The vast maritime space, numerous islets, rocks and cays and the fact that there are limited economic resources at our disposal contribute to the complexity of the problem for maritime law enforcement agencies.

The proximity of the region to both supply sources and markets for illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and ammunition is also an important factor. Threats within our maritime space also include illegal fishing, unsanctioned movement of persons and goods and human trafficking.

Organized illicit drug trafficking activities have a variety of significant effects on the region’s society and vice versa.

Illicit drug activities fuel violence unlike any other criminal activity. The trafficking in small arms and ammunition throughout the region is more prevalent amongst some states than others. Guns are a weapon of choice for crimes in Jamaica, yet none are manufactured here.

Although we are fortunate that there may still be little direct terrorist threats to Caribbean nations, we cannot be complacent.

We remain cognizant that there are sufficient targets of opportunities that could be exploited by terrorists with devastating effects. The large tourist industry, boating industry, and commercial shipping activity in the Caribbean heighten its susceptibility to a terrorist attack in this arena.

Therefore effective monitoring of the maritime domain must be in place. Ideally, detection must happen even before there is a threat to our waters, and the employment of these vessels coupled with the introduction of new technology will achieve good results.

The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard is committed to tackling these threats. The acquisition of these vessels will ensure that they are not only able to deter but to interdict any activity occurring in the maritime domain.

The addition of the maritime patrol aircraft in short order will also significantly enhance the unit’s capability to detect and monitor any activity as required. Local and international persons can be assured of the enhanced response capability when navigating in Jamaican waters.

The men and women of our security forces continue to extend themselves in defence of fellow citizens, on our streets, in the air, and in our maritime space. I must single out the members of the JDF Coast Guard for their sacrifice and service over the years and highlight their role in saving over 200 lives at sea each year.

The increased business and consumer confidence that we are now experiencing, which is encouraging both local and foreign investment, must be bolstered by improving and safeguarding the nation’s security. The Government is committed and encourages all citizens to recognize their individual roles in making Jamaica a safer place.

JIS Social