Bermuda’s first Coast Guard service was launched by the Royal Bermuda Regiment yesterday (THURS). The new service – a mix of RBR troops and police officers – will take over the maritime protection role from the Bermuda Police Service’s marine section.
Private Keijon Goins, 24, formerly of the RBR Boat Troop, said: “I’m very pleased to see all this come together.
“All these long days of training have paid off – I would definitely want to do this full-time.”
Pte Goins, from Pembroke, who works at the Loren resort, added: “All this wouldn’t have been possible without the Regiment. Before I joined, I was unemployed and the Regiment helped me out.
“You get a lot of training and certifications – and I didn’t have to pay for them. We have a great group. We’re close together and we work things out between us.”
Pte Goins was speaking as Governor John Rankin, the Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, Minister of National Security Wayne Caines and RBR Acting Commanding Officer Major Ben Beasley unveiled the new service – complete with Coast Guard liveried boats and uniforms – at the service’s headquarters at Watford House in Sandys.
Lance Corporal Taneah Bean, 31, a commercial diver and security officer from Pembroke, said: “It’s time – it’s definitely useful and we definitely need it.
“If the opportunity presented itself, I would go full-time. I’ve got a lot out of the Regiment in the four years I’ve been in it. I’ve bettered myself, I’m not as complacent and I’m more alert.
“It’s helped me to be more professional and I’ve gained qualifications.”
Private Wayne Hill, 38, who runs his own home maintenance firm, added: “It’s a move forward for Bermuda and our Boat Troop. I rejoined the Regiment at the end of last year and the transformation has been incredible.”
Pte Hill, from Sandys, who first served in the 1990s, said: “When you see the opportunities and different things you can do, the chance to work with the boats, learn all my navigation, get my sea pilot’s licence and perhaps one day be the captain of my own ship, it’s definitely worthwhile.”
Mr Rankin told the audience at Watford House, a former police barracks: “Ensuring the safety and security of Bermuda’s waters is a key part of my responsibility as Governor, working together with the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Police Service and all of the island’s other maritime agencies and, of course, the Minister of National Security and his team.”
He added that the joint services team would provide 24-hour-a-day service in the year ahead and would work in a security role, as well as provide a search and rescue capability and deal with oil spills and other pollution.
Mr Rankin said: “The Bermuda Coast Guard will serve to protect and preserve these waters, helping to maintain the island’s compliance with international maritime regulations and helping to ensure that people in Bermuda, and those visiting Bermuda, can continue to travel through our waters safely.”
Mr Caines added: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment plays a vital role in the safety and security of the country.”
He said the creation of the Coast Guard was “a significant milestone for us all” and that Watford House would become the command centre for maritime operations and joint operations with other Government services, like Customs, Marine & Ports, the Department of Immigration and the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service.
Mr Caines said that the Coast Guard would train with counterparts in the UK and the US and create “dynamic and interesting career choices” for young Bermudians.
He added later: “We have a very strong nautical history and this is something that allows us to train and develop Bermudian talent and allows us to create a centre of excellence for maritime operations for the Overseas Territories.”
Major Beasley said the new service would be made up of 16 RBR Boat Troop members and seven police officers, most of the from the marine section.
He added: “We are excited that some of the spots will filled by people outside the RBR who have the appropriate qualifications.”
Major Beasley said: “This is another example of our constant quest to provide an agile, adaptable and flexible military for Bermuda, at home and abroad, on land and at sea.
“The control centre has been designed by a number of different agencies and it will be organised to assist these agencies to the greatest extent possible.”
Commander Marcus Jacques, a 30-year veteran Royal Navy officer, was drafted in to help set up the Coast Guard.
He said: “It’s a hugely exciting time for Bermuda. It’s extremely important, especially for an island nation.
RBR soldiers are expected to complete 30 days of service a year, including a two week training camp, usually overseas, as well as regular nights and weekends and earn about $5000 in their first year.
Further trade and leadership training, at home and overseas, is also available.
To enquire about service in the RBR, phone 238-1045 or visit rbr.bm.