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Brits still around

Mike King

Brits still around

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They are scaling down their fleet, but the British Royal Navy will still have a presence in the Caribbean.
British High Commissioner Paul Brummell yesterday told the DAILY?NATION the Royal Navy remained very committed to the region and would be able to respond to any range of foreseeable contingencies.
He was responding to a Front Page story in Monday’s DAILY?NATION, which indicated that Britain would soon be abandoning their warship patrol of the region for the first time since the Second World War, triggered by a budget squeeze.
Brummell, British High Commissioner here since October 2009, acknowledged there would definitely be no warship patrols (frigate or destroyers) roaming the Caribbean coastline.
“The reduction in the Royal Navy’s frigate and destroyer numbers requires a careful prioritisation of where ships are deployed to the maximum effect, and it is not anticipated that a frigate or destroyer will supplement the work of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in the Caribbean during the 2011 hurricane season.
“But the fine tradition of Royal Naval presence in, and engagement with, the Caribbean will continue,” he said.
Brummell said the primary purpose of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean was to deliver security and reassurance to the British overseas territories, specifically in relation to disaster relief operations.
The High Commissioner said that when Royal Naval vessels were not engaged in disaster support activity, spare capacity was used to disrupt and interdict consignments of illicit narcotics trafficked through the region en route from Latin America to the Britain, Europe and the United States.
Brummell said that in the event of humanitarian disaster relief operations, Britain would deliver initial military assistance.  He added that during 2011 this would be provided by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, enhanced with a naval party and helicopter during the core hurricane season.  
The United States, which has the world’s largest and most powerful navy, will not be sending gunships anytime soon, but Public Affairs Officer of the United States mission to Barbados, Rebecca Ross, said the Americans remain deeply committed to the Caribbean.
 “This commitment is reflected in President Barack Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative announced at the Summit Of The Americas in 2009, and underlined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Barbados in mid-2010.
“We continue to work with all of the countries in the Caribbean, and with our British, Canadian, French and Dutch partners, to address transnational security challenges in the region with a comprehensive approach,”?Ross said.
Royal Montserrat Police Force Deputy Commissioner Paul Morris described the pull-out plan as “dreadful”, as the patrols have been doing so well in catching and deterring drug runners and making a significant impact on drug trafficking.
“They generally have success on every six-month tour and on the last tour about three or four boats with drugs were intercepted,” he said.
“Their greatest impact is being a deterrent which prevents more people from using the region as a transhipment point. That is even more significant than the interceptions,” he said.