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$100m needed for expanded RBDF efforts, commodore says 

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force needs in excess of $100 million in order to better carry out its mission to stem the growing tide of illegal immigration and other transnational threats, according to RBDF Commodore Raymond King.

“Evidently, we will need more resources because we will seek to duplicate what we have here in the capital at HMBS Coral Harbour,” King said.

“We intend to have a suite of vessels in Great Inagua, Ragged Island, in the Northern Bahamas and we’re looking to establish a central base between Cat Island, Eleuthera and Long Island to cover those areas, being mindful that it’s not only the migrants that we are concerned about, but it’s drug smuggling, arms and ammunition smuggling, trafficking in persons, poaching vessels; so we’re focused on that whole scope of transnational threats.”

Speaking with The Nassau Guardian, King explained that the resources available to the RBDF at this time are “adequate” and continue to be leveraged with regional partnerships.

“More will be required as we decentralize our operations to be even more effective in what we’re doing,” he said.

King said the RBDF made a presentation to the government prior to the 2022/2023 budget being presented, and noted that some increases were indeed secured.

He laid out how much the RBDF needs and what for.

“We are looking anywhere in excess of $100 million to acquire property for the development of additional bases, aircraft hangars, mechanical workshops – everything to support our operations administratively, operationally and logistically,” he said.

“It’s in excess of $100 million we would need, even to acquire additional aircraft, additional vessels. We’re looking at getting a second ‘roll-on, roll-off’ type vessel in the event we have a natural disaster where multiple islands are impacted and we need to respond to multiple islands.

“We have articulated what we need to the government, and the government has responded favorably by means of intention, to use public private partnership ventures to fund some of our development in these Family Islands as well as here in New Providence.”

King recently reported that there has been increased apprehensions of migrants in Bahamian territory.

He asserted yesterday that the organization’s strategy – employed over the past two to three years – has been successful. That strategy is focused on maritime domain awareness.

“It’s a combination of using our aircraft on intelligence awareness and reconnaissance patrols,” he said.

“We rely on the United States Coast Guard C130 to provide similar patrols for us, and we receive information and intel from the OPBat operations at Great Inagua.”

King also pointed to shared intelligence with Cuban border patrol and what he termed “persistent overlapping patrols” jointly with USCG.

“We are all working together, pooling all of our resources and getting the intelligence,” he said.

“We would get the intelligence. We would detect. We would monitor. Then we will seek to intercept, depending on which direction those migrant vessels decide to take.

“Most of those vessels were headed towards the United States, but now we’ve seen just recently one that we intercepted just a few days ago that was headed directly for The Bahamas and then we still have some that head towards Turks and Caicos Islands.”