My fellow Guardians, it has now been more than forty days and counting since we commenced our fight against Covid-19. The national effort under the Task Force has been charting the course for the Strategic Objectives that are established by the Oversight Committee and the office of the Chief of Defence Staff has been leading the joint effort under Operation Covid Shield. The Coast Guard has three operational objectives in Operation Covid Shield. First, securing our maritime borders, second enforce curfew laws and third maintain maritime operations. These three objectives are underpinned by our efforts to maintain the Coast Guard free of Covid 19. In this issue of the Watchstander we highlight just some of those operations that we have conducted in support of the national effort in the fight against Covid–19. Click Here To View / Download First Quarter 2020 Copy of the Belize Coast Guard Watchstander.
Against the backdrop of the Coast Guard strategy, one measurement of effectiveness is our ability to maintain maritime operations beyond the scope of COVID SHIELD. During this 40 day operation we were able to launch a special operation using the Coast Guard Seals to deter a drug plane from landing, we were able to recover a stolen Yacht from Caye Caulker, conduct a Search and Rescue for a fisherman off the Drown Caye area, and support the police for searching for firearms in the Rendezvous Caye area. These are just some examples of our ability to sustain our broad scope of operations whilst supporting COVID SHIELD. Our strategy is working!
There are however, negative impacts on our nation and organization. Belize, like every other state is impacted by the global pandemic. Our economy which is 65% based on tourism is severely affected. Ministries across the government are therefore asked to implement cost saving measures and the Ministry of National Security has already commenced discussions regarding these measures. The Coast Guard will not escape these very essential economic measures. Our emoluments will be affected, our material supply, maintenance and to a certain degree our operating cost will be affected. This however, will not alter this ship from its course. Our resilience as captured in my command philosophy will synchronize our efforts and we will overcome.
The horizon is very promising and there are exciting projections in the very near future. For example our plans to revamp the Eduardono fleet has already commenced, the outboard engines for our small boat fleet is also approved, and the propulsion system for the Special Purpose Law Enforcement Craft (safe boats) are expected in the next couple of months. Our support from the United State Southern Command remains strong, our partnership with the Mexican Navy continues to explore new opportunities whilst our newly established relationship with the Republic of China (Taiwan) is promising. The British Forces continues to pledge support even in this difficult time. Our defence engagement with all four partners are captured in this issue of the Watchstander.
The Wonder Woman Competition, and Cross Country Cycling Classic are two activities on our local calendar of events that are cancelled by Covid – 19. Regionally, Fuerzas Commando and Exercise Trade Winds are also cancelled. This does not mean that we will loose our robustness and skill-set. Our new configuration causes us to focus on the individual. Your individual physical fitness during this time is very important. Maintain your discipline to exercise. Develop new skills and hobbies: I highly recommend reading, gardening, and studying. Here is a link to a series of free courses being offered from Ivy league schools that you may find interesting.
I encourage you to capitalize on this free education opportunity.
I do hope that you find this Issue of the Watchstander informative. Whether you are overseas, at sea, on shore leave or Standing Watch this newsletter is published for your information. My intention is to keep our sailors, our families and our friends informed of our activities and engagements in a more casual way while highlighting some of our success.
Wash your hands, wear your mask, minimize your movements, adhere to the State of Emergency and remain Utrinque Paratus.
Captain Elton Bennett