On November 16th and 17th representatives from nine navies and coast guards from the Western Hemisphere attended the 3rd Annual Damen Stan Patrol User Group Conference in Nassau, Bahamas. Between them, the Canadian Coast Guard, Secretaría de Marina (Mexico), Armada de Ecuador, Jamaica Defense Force, Barbados Defence Force, Coast Guard of the Dutch Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard, Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Belize Defence Force, have over 50 Damen vessels in their fleets. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force hosted this year’s event aimed at a comprehensive knowledge exchange between the users of vessels designed by the Damen Shipyards Group.
As this year has again shown, the Caribbean is regularly affected by natural disasters, and regional navies and coast guards play a pivotal role in providing first disaster relief response to affected islands andcoastal zones. The focus of the conference this year was on how participants can improve their fleet, personnel and equipment readiness in order to be best prepared for natural disasters. The conference also facilitated benefits in cooperation, collaboration and coordination.
Highlighting the importance of the meeting, the event was officially opened by Bahamian Minister of National Security, the Honorable Marvin Dames who commented that the participants “ have the opportunity to discuss and share experiences in the operation and maintenance of these vessels that play a pivotal role in the execution of our individual and collective mandates, in maritime law enforcement, search and rescue of lives at sea and disaster relief and recovery, to name a few of their operations.”
As this year has seen, discussion and exchange of experience is necessary, as many of those affected are often at a disadvantage due to a limited first response capability with limited assets to deal with threatening natural disasters.
The conference also enabled the users to provide direct feedback on the design and functionalities of the vessels. Discussions concentrated on the shift towards more integrated logistic support aimed at assisting the navies and coastguards, keeping their vessels ready for duty for longer periods of time and also increasing their ability to execute complex and demanding tasks.
The conference demonstrated the commitment of the main industry partners present (Damen, Pon Power Caterpillar and Alphatron Marine) to maintain close relationships with the operators, and see where they can add value in rapidly changing strategic circumstances, as well as throughout the lifecycle of a vessel.
According to Magiel Venema, Damen commercial manager and co-initiator of the conference, “There are mutual benefits for operators and industry to exchange experiences and ideas, and the conference provides an ideal setting to do so.” His colleague, Alan Borde, added “It is good to see the conference is appreciated by all involved, there clearly is a requirement amongst the forces to see this initiative going forward. The fact that the Jamaica Defense Force has already volunteered to host next year’s event proves this.”