US Donates Search Boat, 15 Vehicles to Panama

US Donates Search Boat, 15 Vehicles to Panama

By Roberto López Dubois/Diálogo
October 14, 2021

In late September, the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Panama delivered a search and patrol boat and 15 vehicles to the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security to support the fight against transnational crime in Panamanian territory. The donation, valued at more than $1 million, will benefit the Panamanian National Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) and the Panamanian National Border Service (SENAFRONT, in Spanish).

The donation of the Boston Whaler boat, which SENAN will use, is part of the maritime security strategy between both countries to combat narcotrafficking and illegal fishing and to execute search and rescue missions, among others, SENAN said in a statement. The donation includes maintenance equipment and a training program for personnel of the naval institution. The boat has a comprehensive system of electronic navigation equipment, including radar, navigation chart, three outboard motors, and air and maritime communication equipment.

In late September 2021, SENAFRONT received 15 vehicles as part of a U.S. donation, which its elite anti-narcoterrorism unit will use in the Darién region, on the border with Colombia. (Photo: Panamanian National Border Service)

While presenting the donation, Chris Bergaust, management counselor at the U.S. Embassy Mission in Panama, recognized the Central American country’s work in drug seizures and congratulated the government for its efforts. “With this donation, [the Panamanian authorities] will increase their capability to safeguard their maritime domain,” Bergaust said.

The 15 vehicles donated to SENAFRONT included 10 Toyota Hilux and five Land Cruisers, two of which are ambulance-type, SENAFRONT said in a statement. SENAFRONT’s director general, Oriel Ortega, said that the vehicles will go to the Immediate Reaction Force against Narcoterrorism, a SENAFRONT elite land and riverine patrol unit.

“Panama maintains its position under laws that support it in this fight [against narcotrafficking], making us a barrier to prevent, in all aspects, the passage of this lethal substance through our seas,” Panamanian Minister of Public Security Juan Manuel Pino said, adding about the vehicles donation that “this support will contribute to increasing the Public Force capabilities in Darién province, which will serve to guarantee peace and security in our Panama.”