MV Heliconia Star Arrives, More Officers Needed to Shore up Security
The Commissioner of Police says more officers are needed to ensure that the department continues to meet the security needs of the island.
Commissioner Steve Foster spoke to Discover Montserrat shortly after arriving aboard the new police vessel, the MV Heliconia Star on Wednesday morning.
Officials including the Deputy Governor Lyndell Greer, Hon. Minister of Agriculture David Osborne as well as civil servants working in the vicinity, came out to see the 80-foot vessel arrive at Little Bay.
Outgoing Head of the Governors Office Tony Bates said the new police boat had been two years in the making and he was happy to see the day had arrived. The previous vessel MV Shamrock had to be decommissioned as it could no longer be repaired. Montserrat has been without a substantive marine vessel for more than two years.
Foster said the new vessel will allow the island to deliver on its maritime commitments to the region, as it had been unable to traverse the waters for quite some time.
Members of the media and government officials were given a quick tour of the boat which can comfortably sleep eight but has a travel capacity of up to 12.
The MV Heliconia Star was built by Dutch ship builders Damen. It has been outfitted with the latest radar and communications equipment, weapons lockers, night vision goggles and much more. There are two bathrooms, one designated for women, a passenger berth which sleeps four as well as two identical crew cabins which sleep two each.
There is comfortable seating and a galley with a stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator and coffee machine.
The marine unit has been increased to 16 and all officers have been undergoing training for more than two months. It is a requirement that they complete a stringent training programme before the vessel will be officially handed over. The final two-week training began at the arrival of the vessel.
Commissioner Foster said the government has agreed to increase the number of officers in the force by 10. Currently recruitment is ongoing to fill the slots made vacant by the officers shifted from patrol and other units to the marine division.
Former Governor Elizabeth Carriere was instrumental in pushing through the purchase of the vessel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has responsibility for the national security,
The boat will officially be commissioned on June 1.