SOUTHCOM Modernizes St. Kitts and Nevis Drug Interceptor Vessels
By Lorena Baires/Diálogo August 18, 2021
U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) completed upgrades on two Safe 33 Full Cabin drug interceptor vessels for the Saint Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Coast Guard. The vessels were delivered on July 13, 2021, strengthening patrol capabilities in the Caribbean Sea.
The vessels were refurbished as part of the SAFE Boat Mid-Life Upgrade project, under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Foreign Military Financing (CBSI-FMF) program of the U.S. Department of State and SOUTHCOM.
“We see these recent maritime upgrades as critical to support an important security partner like St. Kitts and Nevis and its ability to protect its territorial waters, counter illicit trafficking, and combat transnational criminal organizations,” U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Shane Moran, chief of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, said.
The project included the installation of new engines and a spare parts package at a cost of $950,000. The process concludes with a performance certification process for the vessels on the high seas.
“Both vessels are now even more capable to fulfill the organization’s operational needs as we continue to ensure [that] our maritime borders and territorial integrity of the Federation are secured,” Major W. Andrew Bass, St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Coast Guard commander, said.
The United States originally delivered these vessels in 2012, as part of CBSI-FMF assistance. At the time the vessels came equipped with modern navigation, communication, security, and rescue equipment, the Embassy added. Now, it’s time to upgrade them with digital technology.
Other similar vessels have been upgraded under this program. In March, two interceptor vessels of the Dominica Marine Police Unit were refurbished, and in December 2020, two coastal interdiction boats of the Royal Grenada Police Force Coast Guard underwent renovation. The upgrade of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ equipment is next in line.
The upgrade project is a U.S. cooperation strategy for Eastern Caribbean nations that includes the fields of security, health, energy, education, economic prosperity, and diplomacy.