Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said that continuous training of the coast guards is of utmost importance as the country continues to grapple with crime.
He stated that through exposure to the latest techniques and equipment in diving, they will be better able to carry to out their functions “whether it be from a security perspective, a rescue perspective, or for salvage missions."
Mr. Bunting was speaking to JIS News on June 13 following a tour of the United States Naval Salvage ship (USNS) Grapple. The vessel is docked in Jamaican waters.
The mission of the vessel, which was deployed to the region under the Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2012, is to salvage stranded ships, provide rescue and assistance services, conduct off ship fire fighting and open ocean towing, recover submerged objects, and conduct manned diving operations to a depth of 300 feet.
The National Security Minister said the docking of the vessel in Jamaican waters further strengthens the cooperation on national security between the island and the US.
For her part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela E. Bridgewater, stated that the training will assist in fighting transnational crime.
“They are going to be working together with divers from not just Jamaica and the United States but from Canada, Chile and the Bahamas to share best practices for diving, for salvage, for repair, and basically, working together to enhance the ability to fight transnational crime,” she said.
She noted that the training received can be used in salvaging efforts after an earthquake or other natural disaster. “We are happy for Jamaica at 50 to have this opportunity to continue the ties that bind our nations with our militaries exchanging information,” she told JIS News.
Captain of the USNS GRAPPLE (T-ARS-53), Troy A. Bruemmer said the vessel, which departs the island on Saturday (June 16), has been in the region for three weeks. “It is a good experience to bring all the cultures together in order to exchange our information and be able to work together as one team,” he said.
Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2012 is a series of U.S. Navy deployments focused on exchanging expertise with partner nation militaries and civilian security forces in Central & South America and the Caribbean Basin.
U.S. military teams work with nation militaries on naval-focused training exercises, military-to-military engagements and community relations projects in an effort to enhance cooperative partnerships with regional maritime activities and improve the operational readiness of participants.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter