Maritime security in the Caribbean region has been bolstered with the delivery of six high speed aluminium patrol craft for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG).
Capable of speeds greater than 40 knots and armed with general purpose machine guns and a 20mm cannon, the 30 metre vessels - designed and built by Australian shipbuilder Austal - will expand the TTCG’s surveillance and enforcement capability in the region.
The on-schedule, on-budget delivery of the fleet was achieved less than two years from the initial order, with the final vessels arriving in Trinidad and Tobago via heavy lift ship on January 18.
Director of Trinidad’s Defence Transformation and Integration Secretariat, CDRE Garnet Best, said the vessels would be used to create a security blanket around the waters of Trinidad and Tobago.
“We are confident that the speed of the vessels will contribute to their effectiveness in the interdiction of illegal drugs,” CDRE Best said.
“These vessels have been very well designed to perform numerous roles including customs and immigration border control, fire services and prisoner transport, protection of our marine environment as well as protection of our oil and gas resources.”
As well as superior manoeuvrability and speed, the patrol boats benefit from the reduced structural weight, improved fuel economy and enhanced corrosion resistance that typifies Austal’s aluminium platforms.
Austal is now set to deliver a five-year comprehensive maintenance and support services program for the vessels as part of an additional contract. Included in this will be scheduled planned and preventative maintenance support, unscheduled maintenance, management and performance of annual surveys and maintenance periods, as well as shore based engineering support.
Austal Director – Sales and Australian Operations, Andrew Bellamy, said the six-vessel fleet reinforced not only Austal’s unique brand of high performance defence platforms but also the importance of customised vessel support packages.
“These state-or-the-art patrol platforms will play an integral role in modernising Caribbean maritime security,” Mr Bellamy said.
“Ensuring that the right support structures are in place can be as important as the vessels themselves. From pre-delivery crew training to ongoing vessel maintenance via our newly established service hub in Trinidad, Austal is pleased to be providing an all-inclusive support package to the TTCG.”
The vessels are named “TTS Scarlet Ibis”, “TTS Hibiscus”, “TTS Humming Bird”, “TTS Chaconia”, “TTS Poui” and “TTS Teak”.
A comprehensive crew training program, facilitated by Austal at its Western Australian facility, was also undertaken during the construction process by more than 90 TTCG personnel. Austal is currently delivering further training on-site in Trinidad.