Coral Harbour Base, 27 MAR. ‘17 (RBDF): Every year, in the month of March, the Officers, Senior Rates and Junior Enlisted of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) attend a local church regaled in their brightest and best uniforms, to highlight their achievements during the past year, remember those who would have died in the line of duty, and thank God for their safekeeping, and to pray for continued blessings for the new year.

This year, their 37th anniversary service was held at the Church of God of Prophecy Tabernacle on East Street where Bishop Hulan Hanna is the Senior Pastor. The service was attended by the Governor General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, the Minister of National Security, the Honorable Dr. Bernard Nottage, Minister of State Senator the Honorable Keith Bell, President of the Court of Appeal, Dame Anita Allen, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from various security forces.

Under the theme “Forward, Upward, Onward Together in Guarding Our Heritage”, officers and marines in attendance were commended by the Minister Nottage for their outstanding performance since 2012. This period saw 500 marines recruited, 400 officers and marines undergoing professional and military courses, the capture of 13 Dominican vessels and the confiscation of almost 200,000 poumds of fisheries products and a significant reduction in Dominican poachers; the introduction of South Beach coastal patrols with corresponding crime reduction in the area under Operation Southern Shores; and the signing of the Sandy Bottom Project for the acquisition of 9 patrol craft and modernization of port facilities.

The achievements of the Defence Force during the previous year (2016) were also highlighted. These included joint operations with Police in a national fight against crime resulting in a noted reduction in serious crime; firefighting, patrols and medical assistance provided by Defence Force during the city dump fire and evacuation of Jubilee Gardens; disaster relief assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew; introduction of K-9 Unit; the introduction of a pilot drone unit; the continued capture and arrest of Dominican poachers; the implementation of the Defence Force’s ‘Operation Transformation’ for the efficient management, development and welfare of its human capital inclusive of an accredited Maritime Defence Institute and a Naval Infantry School; and the continued unfolding of the Defence Force’s ‘Operation Regeneration’ for the development of the nation’s youth under the Defence Force’s Rangers Program which incorporates over 30 high schools and saw the addition of schools in the Berry Islands and North Andros in 2017; and the acquisition of 9 patrol craft, and the ongoing development of bases and port facilities at Coral Harbour, Inagua and Ragged Island.

Minister Nottage also encouraged members of the Defence Force to keep up the good work and take care of themselves in the process. And he reminded them that they had a favorable reputation in the eyes of the public which they should seek to uphold.

Bishop Hulan Hanna, who delivered the sermon at the Annual Church Service, reminded Defence Force members, as well as representatives from the Royal Bahamas Polie Force, Bahamas Immigration, Customs and the Department of Correctional Services of the vital service they provide, and he encouraged them to always perform at their best while refusing to associate with non-productive colleagues. Bishop Hanna also reminded those in attendance that real success in national security affairs requires a commitment to Christ as a changed heart produces a changed life.

Commander Defence Force (Acting), Tellis Bethel lauded the event as a success that helps to set a positive tone for the incoming year and expressed his appreciation of the leadership and members of other security forces sharing in this annual service. Captain Bethel was appointed Deputy Commander Defence Force in January 2012 under Commodore Roderick Bowe’s leadership, and later Commander Defence Force (Acting) since March 2015 upon Commodore Bowe’s official retirement.

The Defence Force anniversary activities continues this month with the 5th Commander Defence Force Regatta that is slated for the March 31 – April 2, 2017, and a fun, run, walk slated for early next month

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