This month, a Damen RoRo 5612 was launched at Halong Shipyard in Vietnam. The RoRo is one of nine Damen vessels ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force as part of its Sandy Bottom Project. The vessel’s multi-purpose capabilities will be put to use by the Defence Force in a range of situations including law enforcement, aids to navigation (ATON), replenishment at sea (RAS), the re-supply to Defence Force bases and the provision of disaster relief throughout the island nation and the wider Caribbean community.
The Bahamas’ location in the Hurricane Belt makes it important that the country has this capability. The Defence Force works with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for the provision of disaster relief. NEMA has pre-deployed warehouses throughout the country, stocked with all the necessary food, fuels, tools and equipment that the Defence Force is responsible for transporting in the event of an emergency.
Independent rapid response
The Damen RoRo 5612, will provide the Defence Force with a means of independent, rapid response to any situation that might arise throughout the 500-mile span of the island chain. Damen is providing the vessel with an on board disaster package, featuring modular containers hosting a field kitchen, emergency power generators, first-aid station, drinking water treatment facilities and tools for carrying out repairs, amongst other things. The containers can easily be placed on board the vessel for transportation and unloaded when they are not required, freeing up deck space for other operations.
Commander Warren Bain of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has been in the Netherlands, working closely with Damen throughout the project. He explains: “With this vessel we will be able to respond to storm warnings faster, pre-deploying emergency supplies to where they are needed. Then we can get the vessel to a safe place, returning swiftly to execute a plan of assistance as soon as the storm has passed. We can deploy this vessel wherever it is needed, not only in the Bahamas, but across the entire Caribbean region.”
Recently, the Disaster Relief Containers for the vessel successfully passed their Factory Acceptance Test and have now sailed from Amsterdam to Nassau, the Bahamas in order for local training in their usage and maintenance to take place.
Commander Bain says that the training has been very successful: “It’s been going very well. Two other Bahamas’ Government agencies heard about the containers and came to observe the training. As a result, they have also expressed interest in acquiring similar units for their own requirements.”
The Sandy Bottom Project
The Sandy Bottom Project sees the Royal Bahamas Defence Force decentralise its operations from Coral Harbor in Nassau to more effectively cover the entire island chain. A part of this is a fleet expansion which includes nine Damen vessels – four Stan Patrol 4207 vessels and four Stan Patrol 3007 vessels as well as the RoRo 5612.
Additionally, Damen has refitted two existing 60 metre Bahamas Class vessels, to incorporate commonality with the newbuilds. The fleet expansion project has seen very close cooperation between Damen and the Defence Force and has been of mutual benefit.
Damen Sales Director Sander van Oord says, “At Damen we understand the customer, in this case the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, requires a certain functionality and not just vessels. They have certain responsibilities like disaster response and we try to assist in providing such capability, even when that means taking our scope of supply beyond vessel delivery. Being able to carry out fleet maintenance is another capability the Defence Force must have. This is why Damen ensured commonality between the various vessels’ systems and equipment – even extending to the refit of the Bahamas class vessels – and trained crew and maintenance staff in their usage.”