This article first appeared in the Stabroek News [Georgetown, Guyana] Saturday, June 2, 2001
Photos Rodney Patton, Esq.
Guyana has paid the United States US$415,243 (around $77M) for four 44-ft motor lifeboats to aid in fishery protection and conduct anti-drug operations among other coast guard duties.
The vessels are due to arrive here by Monday.
The boats will be transported from Ilwaco, Washington, where they are dry-docked, to Guyana at no cost to the Guyana government. The transportation cost, land and sea, has been valued by the US government at US$790,000. The US Army Southern Command is providing the sealift portion of this figure, valued at an estimated US$500,000, free. Under the agreement, through which the boats are being provided at below their US$480,000 value, the US government will also supply, at no additional cost, a communication package, spares, tool kits, paint, supplies and two trailers valued at US$47,000. Refurbishing is also part of this package.
The US government will provide training in the operation of the vessels for Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard personnel in Guyana as well as engineer training in the US and Guyana.
It will also provide assistance in refurbishing the boats in Guyana.
Before being taken out of service two years ago, the 44-ft motor lifeboats were the US Coast Guard's standard heavy weather and search and rescue vessels.
In Guyana, together with the converted minesweeper, the HMS Orwell acquired from the United Kingdom and due here late August, the motor lifeboats will be used for search and rescue missions, anti-piracy and counter drug operations, port security, and fishery protection.
Earlier this year, Guyana joined several of its CARICOM partners, including Suriname, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago when it concluded a maritime law enforcement pact with the USA. The agreement was in negotiation for about two years before an understanding was reached on wording that was mutually satisfactory.
Since the government announced additional budgetary allocations of $540 million for last year and this year, the GDF declared its intention to acquire the motor lifeboats and the HMS Orwell as well as a Y-12 light aircraft manufactured in the People's Republic of China from the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC). The aircraft can seat 19 and has a cargo capacity of 1,700 kilogrammes (3,748 lbs). The engine of the aircraft was manufactured in Canada and the avionics in the United States of America.
At the signing of the memorandum of understanding on the sale, GDF Chief of Staff, Brigadier Michael Atherly said that the acquisition of the aircraft would improve the GDF's capability to move cargo and passengers around Guyana as well as improve its maritime surveillance capability.
Since its promotional flights to a number of South American countries, the Y-12 has been sitting in a hangar at the GDF's Air Corps Timehri base. Stabroek News understands that it cannot be put into use until the Guyana government has deposited some part of the purchase price.
When in operation, it will join the Air Corps' fleet of three planes, which were refurbished from the additional allocations provided by the government.
The recapitalisation of the army has proceeded with urgency since the armed eviction last year by Surinamese gunboats of an oil rig from Guyana's waters.
My thanks go to Stabroek News, for allowing me to use this material.
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