The position of the Coast Guard Liaison Officer (CGLO) was established in Nassau as part of continuing efforts to work with the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) and other maritime law enforcement partners including the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Bahamas Customs and Immigration Departments, regarding matters of interest to both our nations involving maritime issues.
The Coast Guard Liaison Officer is the U.S. Government’s representative for all Coast Guard issues in the Bahamas with the exception of the counter-drug mission which falls under the responsibility of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). Most of the work of the Coast Guard Liaison Officer involves coordinating maritime illegal immigration issues. However, the Liaison Officer is also responsible for search and rescue, aids to navigation, vessel safety, and marine environmental protection as well as being responsible for handling all the clearance requests for Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and personnel transiting to and through The Bahamas. The CGLO is also extensively involved with coordinating training that is provided by the Military Liaison Office (MLO). The Coast Guard provides subject matter experts for a large number of courses provided to maritime law enforcement partners.
Because search and rescue is such an important mission to the Coast Guard, the Liaison Officer also works closely with the RBDF and with the volunteer organization, BASRA, to coordinate search and rescue assistance in The Bahamas
Additionally, the CGLO assist with obtaining clearances for U.S. Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and personnel needing to transit through the Bahamas. The CGLO facilitates port visits for USCG cutters patrolling in and around Bahamian and TCI waters.
Migrants: The US and The Bahamas maintain a close working relationship with regard to migrant issues. Illegal migrants continue to be smuggled into the Bahamas and TCI. While many migrants stay in the Bahamas or TCI, most attempt to use the region as a transfer location to facilitate attempts to reach the United States. The U.S. Coast Guard assists in transporting migrants located in remote areas, particularly from the Cay Sal Bank to Bahamas Immigration officials.
RBDF Partnership: The U.S. Coast Guard has a long-standing relationship with the RBDF because of their unique similarity as an armed service that conducts both law enforcement and national defense. The CGLO and Navy Liaison Office (NLO) work closely together to improve relationships and performance of the service. A prime example of this cooperation is the Shiprider Program where three RBDF officers ride on U.S. Coast Guard Cutters each day to assist with enforcement of laws inside Bahamian territories.
RBPF Partnership: The Coast Guard is closely partnered with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, most notably with OPBAT (Operations Bahamas / Turks & Caicos). Both organizations work closely together combating the flow of illegal contraband and migrants throughout the region. The USCG and RBPF also partner on other maritime law enforcement matters such as stolen vessels and trafficking in persons.
Clearances: Routine clearances for Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and personnel involve coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On any given day, approximately 200 Coast Guard personnel engage in The Bahamas in all aspects of maritime issues. The CGLO is responsible for general oversight of most of this engagement.
Search and Rescue (SAR): Any SAR cases involving Coast Guard assets in The Bahamas is coordinated with the Bahamian government. The RBDF is the official SAR coordinator for maritime events in the Bahamas. As such, all search and rescue assistance by the Coast Guard is coordinated with the RBDF. For all SAR cases in the Turks and Caicos, the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force (RTCIPF) Maritime Division serves as the official coordinator.
Aids to Navigation: The USCG continues to work closely with the Bahamas Port Department and the RBDF in providing resources, expertise and training in the field of Aids to Navigation. Charts for The Bahamas and the TCI are infrequently updated to reflect changes in depth soundings, wrecks, shoals and aids to navigation. Mariners are advised to not rely on only one navigation reference source when operating vessels in the region. Due to the numerous reefs and shoals, operation of vessels at night outside of charted navigational channels is not recommended.