RBR takes operational control of Coastguard service
The Royal Bermuda Regiment has celebrated the first anniversary of the Coastguard with the assumption of operational control over the service.
The news meant newly-promoted Captain Jeffrey Patterson has taken command of the unit, set up last February as a joint RBR and Bermuda Police Service operation for a transitional period.
Captain Patterson said: “Seconded personnel from the police with maritime experience continue to serve within the unit – their expertise in application of the law will be invaluable as the Coastguard develops and I look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with them.”
He added: “The general public won’t notice a difference from what has been delivered over the past 11 months – for ourselves, prior to this, we had to have a police officer in each boat to arrest people who had broken the law.
“Now we can exercise our operational duties without the presence of a police officer.”
Captain Patterson was speaking after the Coastguard marked its first year of service on the waters around Bermuda last weekend.
He said: “We are also the first full-time operational unit in the Regiment – it adds a big element to the RBR’s toolkit and underlines its versatility.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the RBR’s commanding officer, added that a Coastguard service had been discussed since the Gilbert Report into the then-Bermuda Regiment in the 1970s recommended a stronger maritime presence.
He said: “One of the visions then was that the Regiment should develop its capabilities to form a Coastguard and it’s a natural evolution for an island country.
“We are developing a far greater maritime focus, which is vital for the safety and security of the people who uses the seas around Bermuda.”
Colonel Beasley added that the new unit, which offers part-time as well as full-time positions, added to the attraction of service in an RBR uniform and provided good value for money.
He said: “Using soldiers to undertake these duties combines people who are passionate about their role in a manner which shows prudent use of the public purse.
“This is their focus and they have years of experience from working in the former Boat Troop and with police officers from the Marine Section.
“Additionally, as their duties require them to manage and service the vessels and engines, the operating costs are kept to a minimum.”
The RBR Coastguard will manage maritime traffic, work in environmental protection and guard against the waterways being used for illegal activities or in breach of marine conventions.
It will also support other Government agencies, such as Customs, the police and the Department of Environment & Natural Resources.
Colonel Beasley told the public: “You will continue to see police officers on the vessels for some time and that shows our continuing collaboration.
“I am a former Reserve police officer who thoroughly enjoyed working in the Marine Section and I’m keen to ensure it continues to a role where our colleagues are warmly received while serving their country.”
He added: “The aim of the Coastguard is to ensure they provide a safe and secure environment for recreational boaters, those who depend on the blue economy for their livelihoods, like fishermen and tour boat operators.”
Rena Lalgie, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, said: “Last week marked the official start of a wonderful new chapter in the history of the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s mission to protect Bermuda’s interests.”
She added the enactment of the Defence (Coast Guard Unit) Amendment Act 2018 was the “completion of a longstanding strategic objective to launch a coastguard unit in Bermuda and Bermuda Coast Guard officers to operate under stand-alone legislation.”
Ms Lalgie said: “I have confidence that the men and women that serve in the Royal Bermuda Regiment will rise to the challenges ahead and deliver further improvements in Bermuda’s maritime security.”
Renée Ming, the national security minister, added: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment Coastguard has engaged in the vital role of protecting and safeguarding those on our waters.
“During the pandemic, the Coastguard unit has served an invaluable role in ensuring boaters’ compliance with the Covid-19 regulations.
“And during these current times of adversity they continue to display an unparalleled resilience and determination.”