The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was looking to increase its maritime capabilities. To fulfil this, the JDF approached Damen. The result was a solution tailored to the JDF’s specific requirements.
Complementary capabilities in regional patrol vessel operation
In addition to extending its capacity, the defence force had a number of requirements.
Amongst these was that it be able to fulfil its role in supporting regional cooperation for patrol and humanitarian relief operations.
Procuring high availability disaster recovery capacity
For this, it was important to the JDF that its patrol boats have commonality with other coast guard agencies in the region.
“Pertaining to the procurement of patrol vessels it makes sense that not all countries in the region procure the same capability, especially with regards to HADR (high availability disaster recovery),” explains Lieutenant Commander Alvin Gayle of the JDF.
“Given the fact that countries in the region are particularly close to each other, if we do they could end up duplicating capability instead of enhancing capability with dissimilar assets.
If we look at the Bahamas, for example, they (the Royal Bahamas Defence Force) procured a Damen Landing Craft 5612, or Roll On Roll Off as it’s commonly nicknamed, hence the JDF decided to purchase a Damen Fast Crew Supply (FCS) Vessel 5009. The result is the delivery of two divergent, yet complementary, capabilities.
Patrol boats working in concert in the Caribbean
“When the region suffers from disasters you find that all nations will pool their resources and help the affected countries. When Dominica experienced Hurricane Maria in 2017, a hurricane that went from a Cat 1 to a Cat 5 overnight, a number of Caribbean nations were there assisting with the HADR efforts.
“Of note was the presence of Damen patrol vessels operated by the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago with complementary capabilities. Admittedly it was great to see all those Damen Offshore Patrol Vessels out in the eastern Caribbean working on a single mission.”
Setting standards in cooperation
Such collaboration is aided by Damen’s practice of standardisation. It is not unusual for crew from one agency to serve aboard a patrol vessel operated by another – it is, therefore imperative that they know their way around the ship.
With Damen patrol vessels operating with the Bahamas Defence Force and the coastguards of the USA (Sentinel Class – Damen-designed 4708 built by Bollinger), Trinidad & Tobago, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Barbados, Damen was able to ensure the JDF of this required commonality.
HADR on the front line
The requirement for collaboration is given increased impetus by the Caribbean’s location on the Hurricane Belt – something which is posing more and more of a challenge as the region finds itself on the front line in the battle against climate change. Something which, says Commander Gayle, is already observable.
“Over the last decade we have experienced a number of records with regards to the hurricanes in the region. We have experienced the costliest and most powerful hurricanes to make landfall.”
“One of the worst hurricanes we had was Gilbert back in ’88 – that was a Cat 3 (after leaving Jamaica, Gilbert reached Category 5), but we’ve been having quite a few Cat 4s passing close to us in the more recent past.” This, he points out, affects Jamaica’s potential for economic stability and growth.
“Given that 50% of the population lives within 1 mile of the coastal zone and that we are heavily dependent on the tourism industry, this is a serious consideration. Infrastructure, whether it be the telecommunications network, energy delivery transportation, is affected, as is the coastal eco system – we have quite a lot of artisanal fishing.”
Enhancing fleet capability with Damen Offshore Patrol Vessels
Another area on which the Jamaica Defence Force and its neighbouring agencies are focusing attention is the increasing of maritime domain awareness. To that end, the JDF has placed orders with Damen for two Stan Patrol 4207 vessels and two FCS 5009 Patrol vessels to complement its existing two Stan Patrols 4207.
As part of the earlier contract in 2016, Damen also accepted the JDF’s older vessels in part exchange and went on to arrange their resale elsewhere.
“Increasing our awareness of our maritime domain will allow the Force to conduct more targeted and intelligence-led patrols and as such more timely and appropriate responses to law enforcement and maritime safety missions. Enhancing our fleet capability with these Damen Offshore Patrol Vessels plays a key role in this.
“The vessels provide us with the capability to remain at sea longer and give us a wider range of communication capabilities. Notably, the Stan Patrol 4207 with the stern launch RHIB gives us increased on board intercept capability with the ability to launch and recover in higher sea states than we were previously capable.”
Job well done
“When we took delivery of our first Stan Patrol 4207 vessels in 2005 it was already a great vessel,” concludes Commander Gayle. “Over time, Damen has taken into consideration our recommendations and has incorporated them into the current design. I have to say, a job well done by Damen.”