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Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard (JDF CG)

The JDF Coast Guard is tasked with the defence and maintenance of law and order within Jamaicas maritime zone. Maritime law enforcement requires a large percentage of our operations and underway time and effort. The focus of our law enforcement missions includes anti-narcotics, port security, customs and immigration, and fisheries protection. The Unit is the first point of call and the national coordinator for the containment of oil spills and other hazardous substances and spills in the marine environment.

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard Headquarters is based in HMJS CAGWAY Port Royal (approximately 25 km from Up Park Camp). The Headquarters is the center of all operational activity for the JDF Coast Guard. There are six additional bases that are manned by the JDF Coast Guard personnel. These bases are referred to as out stations. These outstations are located in the following areas: Montego Bay, Discovery Bay, Port Antonio, Port Morant, Black River and Pedro Cays which is approximately 85 nautical miles south west of Jamaica. These outstations aid the Unit with the various missions that are undertaken.

A large percentage of the planning and underway (seagoing) time involve enforcing Jamaicas maritime laws, with special emphasis on illicit drug trafficking. Other law enforcement duties include enforcement of immigration, customs, fisheries and wild life protection laws. The Coast Guard is Jamaicas on-scene coordinator for maritime search and rescue. The maritime area of responsibility is approximately 90,000 square miles. The JDF CG operates an international radio station on a 24-hour basis, monitoring all international distress frequencies. The unit is also the national co-ordinator for containment and recovery of oils and other hazardous spills. Boating Safety and Marine Inspection are new roles for the Coast Guard, which, among other preparations, in now training selected personnel as marine inspectors.

As naval arm of the JDF, the Coast Guard maintains proficiency to support the other arms in their roles of defence and maintenance of law and order. Joint training and supporting missions are often undertaken. The Coast Guard also carries out joint training with visiting foreign naval vessels. The Coast Guard holds diverse skills for maintaining essential services during periods of civil industrial actions. These include crane operation at the docks, fire fighting and other civil-type activities. The JDF CG also supports non-government organisations in survey and maritime research activities.

The JDF Coast Guard is trained and equipped to deal with marine oil spills and deployed two members to Alaska in 1990 to assist with the clean up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Force has been significantly involved in disaster relief operations in both Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. Several units were deployed to western Jamaica in 1979 following massive flooding which occurred in June that year. The JDF Coast Guard helped with the movement of nurses and supplies to Dominica in 1976 after Hurricane David. Troops were also deployed to Antigua, Dominica and St Lucia after the devastation of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, to the Bahamas following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and to Antigua, Barbuda and Anguilla in 1995 following Hurricane Luis. Over the years the JDF has worked closely with the Jamaicas Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

A year after the JDF was formed in 1962, a naval arm, the Jamaica Sea Squadron was added. The squadrons initial equipment/vessels were three (03) 63ft wooden World War II torpedo recovery boats provided by the United States Government. They were commissioned (Her Majestys Jamaican Ship) HMJS Yoruba (P1), HMJS Coromante (P2) and HMJS Mandingo (P3). A training team from the (British) Royal Navy assisted with the Units early development.

The Sea Squadron was renamed the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard (JDF CG) in 1966 and the naval White Ensign, naval rank insignia and Royal Navy - patterned uniforms were adopted. (All JDF personnel hold substantive army ranks but those in Coast Guard service customarily use naval terminology, titles and uniform.) That year, the JDF CG also disposed of its original fleet of patrol boats, which had been found inadequate. It acquired the first of three (03) 85 ft all aluminum Bay Class Patrol Boats which was commissioned HMJS DISCOVERY BAY (P4). Two (02) other Bay Class boats, HMJS HOLLAND BAY (P5) and HMJS MANATEE BAY (P6), were commissioned in 1967. The JDF CG acquired two (02) other offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), HMJS FORT CHARLES (P7) and HMJS PAUL BOGLE (P8), in 1974 and 1985 respectively.

The newest fleet, the County Class, were acquired in 2005 (HMJS CORNWALL and HMJS MIDDLESEX) and 2006 (HMJS SURREY). On 17 November 2016 the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) awarded Damen Shipyards Group a contract for two new Stan Patrol 4207 vessels. Representing a renewal of their fleet, the new vessels will replace the JDF Coast Guard Units three Damen-built County Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, the HMJS Cornwall, HMJS Middlesex and HMJS Surrey. Damen is currently completing minor modifications before the outfitting process is concluded. Because both vessels were available on stock, delivery is expected before the end of the year. The new Stan Patrol 4207 vessels were renamed HMJS Cornwall and HMJS Middlesex.

The contract also detailed a trade-in agreement that involved JDFs existing Patrol Vessels. These three vessels were built by Damen and have been in active service with JDF since 2005 and 2006. After an official decommissioning ceremony which took place on 8 November in Port Royal, Jamaica, these vessels were handed over to Damen. A heavy lift ship collected all three vessels in the following weeks and transported them to the Netherlands. Following some updating and repair works at Damen Maaskant Shipyards Stellendam, Damen offered them for sale via Damen Trading.

Smugglers continued to use maritime shipping containers, ships, small boats, air freight and couriers to move drugs from and through Jamaica to the United States. One common practice of traffickers was to transport cocaine in large fishing vessels to a point several miles off the Jamaica coast, where small fishing canoes then carried the drugs to shore. Traffickers used the same system in reverse to ship marijuana south to the Caribbean and South America. The Jamaican government has historically lacked swift and reliable vessels to intercept drug traffickers. To remedy this, between 2015 and 2016 the U.S. government donated four 37-foot boats to the JDF Coast Guard and ten 27-foot boats to the JCF Marine Division.





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