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SVG looking at new boats for Coastguard

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Law enforcement officials here are in active negotiation with Professional Powercraft, a maker of high speed coastal, offshore and interception vessels, to purchase three coastguard vessels.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement at Parliament on Friday, October 23, 2009.

It is expected that it will cost in the region of US$7 million to purchase and maintain the boats under this project, aimed at enhancing the coastguard fleet.

During his address, the prime minister disclosed that the money will be paid in 14-half year instalments or US$1 million per year to the Malaysian company.

The government is making plans to purchase two P-56 vessels at US$2.5 million and one P-46 vessel at the cost of US$1 million.

Professional Powercraft’s website states that the P-56 provides exceptional handling performance on rough or high offshore waters, making it perfect for offshore protection and patrolling activities. It holds the view that this vessel is easily capable of reaching speeds in excess of 65 knots at mission load.

Regarding the P-46, Professional Powercraft describes it as a high-speed craft – perfect for use as a fast pursuit vehicle for patrolling coastal and in-shore waters. It packs enough power to effectively aid policing and deter illegal activities.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves announced that the George McIntosh, a vessel donated to St.Vincent and the Grenadines in 1986 by the US Government, is now being stored at the Ottley Hall Marina. He confirmed that it had not been sold, scrapped or had died a natural death.

He stated that a committee has been set up to determine the future of the vessel.

It is comprised of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the Coast Guard Commander, the Director of Maritime Affairs, a representative of National Properties Ltd., a representative of the Ministry of Tourism, and the Manager of the Ottley Hall Marina.

Last year, a naval architect from Trinidad and Tobago examined the Hugh Mulzac and deemed the vessel unsuitable to go to sea. A report on the vessel has shown that the cost to refurbish it is expected to be in excess of the price of a new vessel of such capacity.

The prime minister recalled the Hugh Mulzac was granted as a gift from the government of the United States. He said an agreement was signed that the United States must sanction any suggestion regarding the disposal of the vessel.

This means that the US Embassy in Barbados has to be informed as to the operational and structural situation of the vessel, as well as any intention of the coastguard to decommission the vessel.

Gonsalves said the embassy has promised the situation of the Hugh Mulzac will be communicated to the US government, both the executive and congress.

The outcome will be communicated to St.Vincent and the Grenadines in due course, said Gonsalves.(HN)

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