A double ceremony took place at the Cabrits in the north of Dominica on Thursday morning associated with the expansion and strengthening of the Coast Guard facilities here.
The first was the ground breaking ceremony at a 1.77 acre site at Bell Hall for the construction of a Coast Guard base for Dominica to control the north of the island.
The second was the commissioning of two 38 foot “Secure Seas Interceptor Vessels” donated by the government of the United States of America.
The vessels are high speed Defender Class, all aluminum, patrol boats.
The boats are named after two former police officers who died while in active service in the force and coast guard.
Participating at both ceremonies was the new US Ambassador to Dominica and the Eastern Caribbean, Larry Leon Palmer.
Ambassador Palmer noted that Dominica was the first Caribbean state to apply for, and the first state to receive the new vessels, under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.
The new base will be financed with a US $1.7 million grant.
It will include buildings and a jetty on the shores of Douglas Bay at Bell Hall on the north side of the Cabrits Peninsular.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit issued a warning to drug traders in the waters of Dominica and the region that the additional craft brings to seven, the number of interdiction vessels in active service.
“We will chase you, catch up with you, search you out and subject you to the full force of the law” he stated.
The prime minister also sought to assure Ambassador Palmer that whatever he may hear to the contrary, the good relationship between Dominica and the US “is as solid as a rock”.
Officials attending the ceremony were taken on a test ride of the vessels around Prince Rupert Bay.
Construction of the base will be put out to tender and construction is expected to start in October.
The Prime Minister declared that he looked forward to local firms participating and one of them winning the bid to construct the base.