Several Hours ago, at Coral Harbour Base, a brief ceremony was held to welcome home the crew of HMBS Lawrence Major (A-01) which recently returned home after spending over 30 days on a Disaster Relief and Recovery mission to the Commonwealth of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that devastated the CARICOM Country back in September, 2017.
The HMBS Lawrence Major ship’s crew, donned in their tropical white uniforms, lined the sides of their 187-foot vessel in military formation, were warmly welcomed home to signs of ‘We Miss You’, ‘Welcome Back’ and ‘We’re Proud of You’ held by family and loved ones who themselves were lined off along the jetty walls, applauding as they recognized their family members.
The historic trip by HMBS Lawrence Major – commanded by Lieutenant Commander Milton Munroe – also rounded up a ‘major’ first for the Defence Force. Travelling over 3,000 nautical miles, it was the very first time any Defence Force vessel has loaned humanitarian assistance to a country in the Eastern Caribbean Region and the first time they would have had an opportunity to participate in another country’s Independence Parade–Dominica’s 39th Independence ceremony on 3 November, 2017.
In attendance as the Principal guest was the Minister of National Security, the Honourable Marvin Dames, who in his address, noted that the mission has set a precedent for future efforts.
“The delivery of hurricane relief and recovery supplies to Dominica from The Bahamas and Jamaica, the provision of food and medical attention, and the conducting of basic technical repairs to buildings and facilities in Dominica are commendable and speaks volumes of The Bahamas’ willingness and capacity to reach out and help our CARICOM neighbours. Yours was the first mission of its kind for the Defence Force in the Eastern Caribbean region and has set a new standard for other missions that may follow,” Minister Dames said.
Commander Defence Force, Commodore Tellis Bethel, in his remarks highlighted that the mission was in keeping with the Government’s mandate to render assistance to a CARICOM partner nation, under one of the Defence Force’s strategic goal, Operation Mobilization. According to Commodore Bethel, the mission exemplified the evolving role of the Defence Force “to respond both locally and regionally in providing disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and maritime security when The Bahamas or any of its regional partners are in need.”
Commanding Officer of HMBS Lawrence Major, Lieutenant Commander Munroe in his address, expressed how humbling the entire experience was. He said, “It was an honour for my crew and I to serve our country by being allowed to serve others who are in greater need.”
Both Minister Dames and Commodore Bethel, lauded the contributions made by the four firefighters from the Royal Bahamas Police Force Fire Services, who accompanied the vessel on its mission to Dominica. Attending the ceremony was the Director of the Police Fire Services, Chief Superintendant Walter Evans.
The 40 Defence Force Officers and Marines who participated in the Dominican Relief and Recovery Operation were awarded National Security Council Commendation Certificates with Ribbons by the Minister of National Security for their honourable and exemplary service in accordance with the Defence Act. Commendations for the four firefighters will also be presented during a special ceremony by the Police Force.