Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Thank you for joining us to welcome the United States Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE, along with her captain and crew to The Bahamas.
The visit of this beautiful vessel, the sole U.S. government tall ship in active service, highlights the strong friendship shared between the United States and The Bahamas. I am delighted to have the opportunity to invite you on board this evening.
Yesterday morning, some of our valued Bahamian partners and members of the U.S. Embassy and sailed into port on board the EAGLE. Some fared better than others during the ride-in, but it was a memorable time for all. I would like to thank the entire EAGLE crew for their service and for their hospitality during yesterday’s ride-in, and now as we share this beautiful evening together. I also would like to thank our USCG Liaison Officer Tom Gill for coordinating this visit and the RBDF for its tremendous support.
The U.S. Coast Guard has a long tradition of cooperation in The Bahamas, most notably through Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos. In November, OPBAT was recognized with an award by the U.S. Interdiction Coordinator for its contributions to countering the increasing threat posed by narcotics trafficking. Additionally, last fiscal year, the U.S. Coast Guard assisted The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos’ interdiction efforts by recovering over three thousand migrants at sea.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s work in The Bahamas extends beyond counternarcotics and migrant interdictions. The U.S. Coast Guard also works closely with BASRA and the RBDF in search and rescue cases in Bahamian waters. In the past eight months, the Coast Guard has supported 152 search and rescue cases, assisting 2,400 persons and saving the lives of more than 200 individuals.
I also want to take a moment to recognize the important work the Coast Guard does outside of the water, such as their efforts with schools and communities through education and community relations programs. Of all the terrific crew I met yesterday, I was especially pleased to speak with Darius Adams, a Bahamian accepted to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy last year, who is now on a five-week EAGLE tour as part of his Coast Guard Academy program.
Earlier today, our Public Affairs section arranged for students from Woodcock Primary, CR Walker High School, and the Centreville and Bain and Grants Town Urban Renewal Centers to tour the EAGLE. We believe this encounter will leave a lasting impression upon these students’ lives, and that as a result, we will see more students make positive life choices and strive for the educational excellence displayed by Mr. Adams and the other U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets.
Tomorrow, with the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section and community partner Violets are Blue, EAGLE crew member volunteers will head to the Hay Street basketball court, just over the hill, for an urban art and gardening project. There, they will be building and painting raised planting beds that will house healthy food options for the local community.
And, because food is one of my favorite things, I am going to stop there so we can all enjoy the wonderful food the EAGLE crew has prepared for us this evening.
Thank you all again for joining us tonight, and I hope you enjoy the remainder of the evening.