The government has entered into a three-year service agreement with Damen Shipyards that will provide for training of marines and officers in vessel maintenance.
The value of the contract is approximately $5.6 million. The contract signing was held May 27, 2021 at the Ministry of National Security.
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said that the contract represents one of the most significant moves in the country’s history.
“This is a significant undertaking, which has been in the making for a while,” he said.
“This contract valued at $5,620,250 is not the final step of a great friendship, but rather the beginning of a partnership that the government of The Bahamas has merged into.”
He said that when the initial Sandy Bottom Project agreement was signed between the government and Damen Shipyards in 2014, the move ushered in a new era in the history of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Since then, he said, several objectives have been met through the partnership. These include: the acquisition of nine new patrol and auxiliary craft, the refit of two Bahama Class vessels, improvements to existing vessels, and the building of new jetties, docks and breakwaters.
“We also completed warehouses and facilities, ramps, an operations center and workshops, and lastly, a state-of-the-art ship’s bridge simulator at the Coral Harbour Base,” he continued.
“Impetus for today’s contract signing is the commander [of the] defense force’s insistence on extending the operational availability and useful life of the organization’s fleet by transitioning from breakdown maintenance to planned maintenance, underscored by this pending relationship with Damen Shipyards Group.”
Commodore Raymond King, commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, said that the move is in keeping with the process of decentralizing the organization, and also to train and make up for the loss of institutional knowledge as a result of retirements.
“This new agreement will allow us to establish a maintenance management system, recoup the loss of institutional knowledge, provide technical advice and establish a logistical system, which will assist in inventory, among other things,” said the commodore. We will now move into being able to do our own repairs. And at the end of it all, all who go through the training programs will be certified.”
Regional Service Manager for the Americas at Damen Shipyards Ruben Schot, said the signing is a continuation of a trusted relationship developed over the years and now aims to build skillsets and develop a training epicenter.