|Committee to oversee acquisition of new Defence Force assets|
|Friday, 17 August 2012 07:59|
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Security have been appointed to head the Project Management Committee that will be responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of the acquisition of 11 new Defence Force vessels.
The Management Committee has been given the authority to appoint sub-committees that will focus on ship acquisition, port infrastructure upgrades and logistics and training. Each of the sub-committees is to be supported by a separate, expert consultant and chaired by a Senior Defence Force Officer. The Management Committee retains oversight of all aspects of the acquisition.
Minister of National Security, Dr. the Hon. Bernard J. Nottage said the acquisition of the 11 boats is expected to cost the Government of The Bahamas $119 million. Associated costs such as project management costs and costs related to substantial upgrades of existing facilities and other infrastructural improvements, could take the total cost up to $200 million.
Substantial upgrades to the infrastructure will take place at several locations and will include dredging and ancillary bulkhead works at Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship (HMBS) Coral Harbour Base (estimated at $20 million); construction of Base Facilities at Gun Point, Ragged Island, including aircraft hangar and small boat ramp; construction of Base Facilities at Freeport, Grand Bahama; and improvements of Base Facilities at Mathew Town, Inagua, including harbour expansion and the construction of an aircraft hangar.
The projected direct capital expense for purchasing the vessels represents 1.3 percent of the country’s current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and could likely lead to a doubling of the Defence Force’s budget within five years.“The proposed Defence Force Vessel Acquisition Programme will represent a major investment by the Government of The Bahamas and would dramatically alter the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s culture, operations and finances,” Dr. Nottage said.
“The total cost of the acquisition, including project management costs and the complete infrastructure improvements, could be in the order of $200 million. Proper project management will be critical towards managing this transition,” Dr. Nottage added.
Dr. Nottage said the purchases will cover four classes of vessels and will be completed over a proposed four-year period. Vessels to be purchased include four, 70 ft. Inshore Patrol vessels; four, 108 ft. Coastal Patrol Vessels; two, 140 ft. Offshore Patrol Vessels; and one, 170 ft. Landing Craft Utility.
Additionally, there are the costs associated with re-training of officers and an increase in the fixed costs of maintenance support.
“This Administration has assessed the situation and has taken the decision to ensure optimum results from the acquisition exercise,” Dr. Nottage said. “The government has therefore opted to the establishment of an overall project management committee to oversee all aspects of the acquisition including the establishment of sub-committees focusing on ship acquisition, port infrastructure upgrade and logistics and training. Each of the sub-committees is to be supported by a separate expert consultant and chaired by senior Defence Force Officer.
“An orientation visit to the identified shipyard will take place. The purpose of this visit would be to develop the schedule that would lead to the signing of agreements for the purchase of the vessels,” Dr. Nottage added.
Dr. Nottage said there were “other considerations” associated with the acquisition of the additional vessels for the Defence Force. These include: additional aircraft and hangar construction to provide aerial support; refitting of the Bahamas Class vessels (the198-ft. HMBS Bahamas and HMBS Nassau) to extend their service life and further strengthen the fleet; and recruitment of additional staff. The current total complement of Defence Force staff is 1,164. Over the next 4-5 years that number is expected to increase to 1,348.“I am pleased to report that in June of this year 62 Marines were added to the ranks of the Defence Force. Further, plans are in place to commence training of an additional 60 recruits in mid-September,” Dr. Nottage added.
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