On Wednesday, June 23, the United States completed its three-month long refurbishment of the Saint Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) Coast Guard’s two nearshore intercept vessels, as part of a US$950,000 modernization initiative. The SAFE Boat Mid-Life Upgrade included a complete vessel overhaul, new engines, and a spare parts package to ensure continued operability.
The upgrades for SKNDF Coast Guard’s two drug interceptor vessels were made possible through the U.S. State Department’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative’s (CBSI) Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Work was conducted by SAFE Boats International technicians, the CBSI Technical Assistance Field Team, and Naval Sea System Command. The project will strengthen Saint Kitts and Nevis’ ability to conduct maritime patrols and protect its coastal waters.
SKNDF Coast Guard Commander Major W. Andrew Bass emphasized the impact of the initiative saying, “Both vessels are now even more capable to fulfill the organization’s operational needs as we continue to ensure our maritime borders and territorial integrity of the Federation are secured.”
Deputy U.S. Military Liaison Office Chief, Lieutenant Colonel Shane Moran explained, “As part of the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to the Regional Security System member states, 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.”
The United States originally provided the two SAFE boats to Saint Kitts and Nevis as part of CBSI FMF grant in 2012. They are part of the U.S. Embassy’s U.S.-Caribbean Strategy, which focuses on cooperation in the areas of security, health, energy, education, economic prosperity, and diplomacy.
A member of the SOUTHCOM Technical Assistance Field Team works with the SKNDF Coast Guard to review the recent upgrades