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SVG Coast Guard celebrates 31st Anniversary

SVG Coast Guard celebrates 31st Anniversary

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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard Service will be celebrating its 31st anniversary on Friday, December 2, 2011.{{more}} The Coast Guard Service was established on December 2, 1980, one year after St Vincent and the Grenadines gained its political independence from Great Britain.

The original eight members of the Coast Guard were: Marcus Richards (deceased), Ralph Liverpool, Eldon Wilson, Ricardo Theobalds, Desmond Corea, Clement Patrick (deceased), David Robin and Harlon Cambridge. Richards, Liverpool and Wilson were recruited from the Police Force and the others were recent graduates from secondary schools. On January 1, 1981, the men journeyed to England for training in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan.

The first Coast Guard vessel, SVG 05 George Mc Intosh was commissioned on November 21, 1981. It conducted its first Search and Rescue (SAR) operation on January 19, 1982. Two other locally built patrol boats were added to the fleet in 1982, SVG 08 Brighton and SVG 07 Larakai. The Coast Guard flag ship, SVG 01 Captain Mulzac, was accepted into service on the June 13, 1987, and it conducted its first SAR operation on July 6, 1987. Other small boats were added to the fleet as the years progressed. The first locally purchased vessel, SVG 10 HK Tannis, was procured by government in 2005.

The Coast Guard presently has 82 personnel on its staff; they are responsible for the day to day operations of the guard. The guard is headed by Coast Guard Commander Brenton Cain who is the third Vincentian to command the guard. Commander David Robin was the first Vincentian to command the Coast Guard from 1994 to 2007, and Commander Tyrone James from 2005 to 2008. The Coast Guard was commanded by personnel of the Royal Navy between 1981 and 1994. Commander Cain is supported by Lieutenant Deon Henry, Operations Officer, Lieutenant Ralphie Ragguette, Engineering Officer and other senior members of staff to carry out the following responsibilities: Maritime Security, Maritime Safety, Marine Environment Protection, Protection of Natural Resources, Enforcement of International Maritime Convections, Agreements and Treaties, Foreign Relations and National Defence.

The first female to be enlisted into the Coast Guard was Able Seaman (AB) Evelyn Stowe who was transferred from the Police Force to the Coast Guard in the year 1986. After AB Stowe there have been a number of women in the Coast Guard to include AB Jihan Lampkin and AB Lekeysha Glynn who participated in Miss SVG Beauty Show 2006 and 2007, respectively. Presently there are 15 females in the guard; Petty Officer Ceilia Charles was the first female to be promoted in 2006.

To mark its 31st Anniversary, the Coast Guard Service will be holding a Week of activities from 27th November to 2nd December, 2011. The following activities are planned to celebrate the week: Church Service – Kingstown Methodist Church; Career Day and Safety Exhibition – Monday (Kingstown Police Station Sidewalk). Radio Programme (On d Beat, NBC Radio); Open Day at Coast Guard Base Calliaqua – Tuesday; Sports Day – Wednesday; Visit to Schools – Thursday; Coast Guard Lime – Friday.

In the summer of 1994, acting on the idea of Commander Tyrone James, SVG Coast Guard Service conducted its first Youth Development Summer Programme. This year this programme celebrated its 18th year and has educated over 1734 of the nation youths in the aspects of First Aid, Navigation, Seamanship, Swimming & Life Saving, Knots & Spices, Boat Handling, Marine Environment and Solid Waste Management among other interesting sessions. The Coast Guard began the distribution of Food Baskets in December of 1991 to the senior and needy residence of Calliaqua. This was the initiative of Petty Officer (Sergeant) Charles Adams. This distribution of food basket over the years has migrated to numerous communities on mainland St. Vincent which includes Lowmans, Sandy Bay, Colonaire, Layou, Richland Park, Chateaubelair, Biabou, Arnos Vale and Prospect. To date over fourteen hundred (1400) food baskets have been distributed by the Coast Guard throughout St. Vincent. Coast Guard Food Basket distribution is into its 20th year and we are hoping to distribute eighty (80) baskets in the communities of Owia and Vermont on the 14th and 15th of December respectively. The Coast Guard will also be hosting its annual Children Christmas Party on December 17th.

Since the establishment of the Coast Guard, the unit has developed into a well-organized, dependable and efficient service.

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