Trinidad's decision to acquire an OPV goes down a storm
Posted: 06/27/2012 12:00:00 AM EDT
Defence IQ recently caught up with Commodore (Rtd.) Anthony Franklin, former Chief of Defence of Trinidad & Tobago, who briefly outlined his nation’s key concerns as it aims to provide effective seakeeping in the Caribbean within a reasonable budget.
What is your main focus at the moment?
I’m in charge of acquiring new naval assets for Trinidad and Tobago; we’ve recently put out a request for information and I’m chairing the committee that will eventually develop the specifications and follow through the process of acquiring the vessels.
What are the critical design attributes and specifications you are currently looking for?
We’re looking at cost-effectiveness. We’re looking at seakeeping capabilities. And we’re looking at flexibility. These are the main attributes but of course there’s also the operational ability and through-life costs to consider too.
Based on your recent experiences in the Caribbean, what capabilities are required to operate after a humanitarian disaster?
We need the ability to transport relief supplies and emergency teams and, more particularly, members of the 2ndBattalion – the engineering Battalion of the regiment – who are our immediate disaster relief reaction team. We also transport supplies to the south of the Caribbean, not just Trinidad and Tobago, to the places just south of the hurricane belt. The eastern islands are all in the way of the hurricanes and our experience over the years is that we’ve had to react by carrying personnel up to assist and carry supply’s back and forth. We’re hoping to acquire a new offshore patrol vessel that will be capable of carrying a 30-man team from the regiment as well as the necessary equipment to serve as an immediate reaction team.
How can you ensure a robust fleet in a region facing severe weather, particularly during the hurricane season?
Well, that is very difficult! It’s difficult to ensure the fleet is robust enough because, when we’re talking about the south-eastern Caribbean, a lot of the countries cannot afford large vessels. Barbados has recently acquired a large OPV and Trinidad and Tobago is in the market for a patrol vessel, but that’s about it. We’re trying to get a vessel that can cope with the kind of sea conditions seen in the area, particularly during the hurricane season. Unfortunately in the south Caribbean, they are outfitted with less launches, so the challenge for them is affordability.
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