Bring OPV Report

Scarborough CG 51 vessel at BAE Systems' shipyard on the Clyde River in Glasgow, Scotland

Scarborough CG 51 vessel at BAE Systems' shipyard
on the Clyde River in Glasgow, Scotland

Newsday Editorial
July 16, 2010 – newsday.co.tt

WE eagerly await the report recently promised by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on the former regime’s purchase of three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) that are said to cost $1.5 billion, which would work out at $500 million each.

The OPVs, together with smaller supporting boats and a 360 degree radar system, were meant to make this country’s coastline virtually impenetrable to drug-traffickers, according to the former regime.

However, like so many other questionable decisions made by the former government — this one done under a veil of national secrecy — the OPV purchase is now being scrutinised by the new People’s Partnership Government.

While the PNM’s 2010 General Election manifesto said, “These vessels each have the capacity to carry over 100 men and stay out at sea for several weeks, with a range of several thousand miles,” we ask are they really necessary?

Does Trinidad and Tobago really need three ships, each carrying 100 sailors, that are able to stay at sea for weeks and to travel thousands of miles away?

We cannot say that the former administration had ever really made their case.

We are glad the OPVs are now getting the attention that they had evaded during the former PNM’s spending splurge, that also included the more headline-grabbing items of Udecott and the Rapid Rail.

The vessels represent not just a hefty initial outlay, but what appears to be a continually escalation in new-found costs, to not just build the boats but to maintain them and to train their crews.

We are now hearing that 66 Coast Guard sailors undergoing training have since last year been housed at the exclusive Holiday Inn in Portsmouth, England, and elsewhere at a cost of $60,000 per day.

San Fernando CG 52 vessel at BAE Systems' shipyard on the Clyde River in Glasgow, Scotland

San Fernando CG 52 vessel at BAE Systems' shipyard
on the Clyde River in Glasgow, Scotland

Persad-Bissessar has quite rightly in our view described the whole OPV purchase as a black hole into which taxpayers money is being sunk. To add to these woes is the fact that the delivery-dates of the OPVs have continually been pushed back. We recall that even as the initial date for the first OPV had been May 2009, former Minister of National Security, Martin Joseph, had before then in the Senate pushed back that date to November 2009, a date subsequently pushed back to September 2010, but which the country has learnt has been delayed even further.

Latest news is that the delivery has been stalled due to a fault in the electrical system of the weapons system.

While Persad-Bissessar has hinted that Trinidad and Tobago may be entitled to some level of compensation, the delays may not be enough to get this country out of the contract, if so desired.

Several questions now arise. Firstly, does the pattern of illicit drug-trafficking suggest that such OPVs would in fact be efficacious in curbing the drug-trade? While awaiting the OPVs, the country has acquired so many interim vessels such as Fast Patrol Vessels and Interceptor Vessels, which we wonder whether in themselves are sufficient to apprehend suspected trafficking vessels? Secondly we ask whether or not there was a fair selection process for choosing the British firm, Vosper Thornycraft (VT), now a subsidiary of British Aerospace (BAE). We recall former Senator Wade Mark in 2008 once referring to the OPV deal as a “fishy affair” in which the tendering process was inexplicably scrapped in favour of the deal being done by a government-to-government arrangement, although the then government had denied any wrongdoing.

We await the Government’s report on this matter and the resulting decision as to what happens next, including whether the OPV contracts remain intact and whether the deal needs to be investigated in the detail of a forensic audit, and whether the findings would be sent to the Integrity Commission.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,124105.html

Photos courtesy: www.riverclydephotography.org

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July 17, 2010

OPVs launched amid Govt’s delay criticisms
THE LAST of the controversial Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) ordered by the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government was yesterday launched at BAE Systems’ shipyard on the Clyde River in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Address by Minister of National Security at Commissioning of OPV’s
14 July, 2008

8 Responses to “Bring OPV Report”


  • I remember many years standing on the banks of the Godenue River. At about 9 p.m. there was a convoy moving on the banks of the river. I wonder what was happening or why were these people driving on the bank of the river this late in night. My brother said to me have nothing to do with that and we promptly left. Drugs coming into T&T is nothing new, however purchasing three large patrol boats costing many millions to maintain is new. The problem with these vessels along with the past administration spendaholic behaviour is that they had nothing to show for it. Having these vessels and not catching drug runners will certainly mean a waste of monetary resource. Similar to the blimp and other excesses.

  • As someone involved in the academic and intellectual assessment of individuals as part of my profession, I can predict with great reliability and validity that the decision makers responsible for the OPVs are quite stupid.

  • Being an intellectual assessor and such , T-Man, do you think it is possible that I can patent a new Social Science theory entitled ,’The Lot’s wife syndrome?’
    It’s one whereby leaders- particularly, backward ,Third World one’s that we in Rainbow Country today ,are unfortunately saddled with,remains fixated ,on peeking over their symbolic shoulders, into the past ,because they either were not ready to lead from day one ,when initially elected, haven’t a clue as to concrete mechanisms that are required to keep the ‘Ship of State’ afloat, so as to take it forward, or perhaps ,in actuality ,forgot why in the first place ,they were elected into power, to replace others ,the voters were simply disgusted with.
    Perhaps it’s just yours truly that might be the dense one,and just cannot figure things out, after decades of not witnessing an authentic ,Trini,time wasting carnival,but hopefully another game plan is in the works , as opposed to this pos/pro/election, reflection policy, as constantly highlighted ,by conniving ,4th Estate agents,delusional 14th century thinking party hacks such as khem, and tribalistic foreign based talking heads like yourself.
    I swear, if I hear another word about foreign Canadian crook Calder Hart , past T&T Police incompetence, Manning and his stupid, religious advisor female pal,overrunning cost of Scarborough long delayed hospital, the ghastly state of the treasury ,due to wasteful spending in the past , or greedy Afrocentric CARICOM leaders , I am going to do either one of three things. Here they are: Tie my hands behind my back , after first putting a crocus bag over my head , and jump into the Caroni River, climb to the top of our expensive Hyatt Hotel, and jump off blindfold , while attempting to fly, or eat some bad food and take my chances in one of the 50 PNM orchestrated hospital constructed only across Trinidad ,since our independence. The caveat for the latter is however, that only doctors who were students of Dr. Goopesing our new Minister of Agriculture can work on me , as I could never entrust by life with no Cubans , or Nigerians , as was recently done by the Justice Minister.
    This is the sort of stuff that the late comedian , John Agitation, would have had a field day with – may Blacksungod ,rest his soul. Notice , I did not include Fabian, Sprangalang, or Tommy Joseph, for these cowards are I am sure , presently laminating their new PP party cards ,and won’t touch these and similar contentious issues, with a ten feet pole.
    Speaking of which, do me a favor , and use your influence ,to tell the Mayaro kid, Uncle Gypsy, that I head from good sources that the “Little Black Boy,” is getting a bit concern , as he never learned to swim at the Lavantille Road YMCA,and would be in deep trouble , if thrown from any sinking ship.
    Let’s both wish our people well , even as we languish in more pristine quarters across the global village ehhh?

    • Dr. Goopesing our new Minister of Agriculture-Neal. Nealo as far as i know Dr. Goopesing is now minister of education. Minister of Agriculture is Vasant Bharath. Just ah lil typo on your behalf I am sure, but it is my pleasure to correct such abnormalities.

  • Neal:
    “Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. Recognizing, analyzing, and remembering the errors of the past are the wisdom and success of the future.”This was said by some wise person, and I am quite sure it was not my grandmother.

  • True my friend , and it’s why I learned so much from 1970,and would never forget what transpired in, and after 86, 90, and 95. Think however how stupid global savior Uncle Barrack would appear,if he sits around,and twiddle his thumbs, while lamenting about how his idiot predecessor,in Frat boy GW, and his crazy, war mongering neocons, destroyed the economy that Bill left them, ehh?
    The only lessons worth learning my friend is “never bite off more than you can chew,” as well as , “great talkers, are less doers,”and you of course ,knows fully well , who was the wise woman that taught me that , yes?
    Listen buddy it’s Friday , and you have your Molson Coors , and I my Bud light to drink , since we both finally gave up Carib, and Stag, along with our beloved country , when again?
    What’s that, speak for myself? By the way, lovely pictures of our PM’s expensive residence, ehh? Wait ‘a cotton picking minute,’ that corrupt African PM, did not take it with him -like his many West African cousins would – when he was voted out of office ,in the recent democratically held election? Well, as the wise one would say again -“wonders , never cease!”

    http://www.triniview.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=474522

    Yes , yes ,I know , before you as apologist in chief ,have to remind me again, it’s really our new ‘people’s museum,’as the head honcho prefers the beautiful sounds of humming mosquitoes ,chirping crickets,and croaking toads from the unmentionable ,Trini Southern countryside.
    Believe that T-Man , and I could sell you the Caroni Bridge , along with 100 nearby acres of prime farm land real estate to build your long overdue, Buddhist temple.
    What a country!
    Incidentally, as some of our learned friends would often say in the legal fraternity , when trying to trap a liar under oath- if you were lying about X back then , why should we believe you on what you say about Y now , and of course moving forward?

  • It is my understanding that these vessels, like most OPVs are multi-mission in their capabilities. Acting with, or without, information acquired by land-based radar, they can position themselves to intercept and inspect suspicious craft in regional waters. This task is, even as I write, being undertaken by units of the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, and the Royal Netherlands Navy. We have all read, from time to time, of the large quantities of illegal drugs seized by these foreign Navies while patrolling in our regional seas.
    The last really serious hurricane disaster in our near neighbourhood was that which befell Grenada a few years ago. No one can doubt that our prompt and timely response in sending elements of our armed forces, and CEPEP, to help in the immediate aftermath and the longer term clearing up was necessary and justified. The ability of an OPV of this design to uplift a significant number of personnel to a relief zone and stay, if needed, to act as a centre of communication and control is invaluable.
    Should, heaven forbid, a serious incident occur on one of our offshore petroleum assets, the ability of these vessels to allow helicopters to land on their decks, and in general act as a control centre for any subsequent corrective activity should be obvious. Extended Search and Rescue is another function which these assets will make possible.
    It should be clear from the above that while ALL the attributes of these vessels may not be needed for all their possible missions, the mix of abilities that they have will allow the coast guard to execute the many important functions which we have, so far, depended on foreign navies to provide

  • when would we learn from our past, and move forward.the drug runners are so far ahead of the game, that when we finally, decided to play catch up,uncle jack and mrs bissesser, has push us backwards into massar days. where we are dependant on the mother land for our safety and security.
    Are we going to punish the little black boys, who can be purchased at a dime a dozen.Or are going to stop the drug lords, cleaning up our country,and providing a better future, for our families.
    The miss information of the opvs are astounding.we need to research and see how much the media has lied to the people of t&t.
    Just take a look at the package that being presented for the vessels, includes,building,training of man power,and also helicopters. for 1.5 billion dollars tt. not the lies printed in the article above.
    GO ON THE NET AND GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT.
    PEOPLE OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO GET OF YOUR BUTTS AND STOP BELEIVING WHAT THE MEDIA AND THE GOV,T SAY CHECK IT OUT. WE HAVE BEEN LIED TO, WONDER WHY.
    IVOR ST HILL GREAT ARTICLE.

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