JULY 30, 2015 — A Damen RoRo 5612 launched at Halong Shipyard in Vietnam this month is one of nine Damen vessels ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force as part of its Sandy Bottom Project that will decentralize its operations from Coral Harbor in Nassau to more effectively cover the entire island chain.
The vessel's multi-purpose capabilities will be put to use in a range of situations including law enforcement, aids to navigation (ATON), replenishment at sea (RAS), the resupply of bases and the provision of disaster relief throughout the island nation and the wider Caribbean community.The Bahamas' location in the Hurricane Belt makes it important that the country has this capability.
The Defence Force works with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for the provision of disaster relief. NEMA has pre-deployed warehouses throughout the country, stocked with all the necessary food, fuels, tools and equipment that the Defence Force is responsible for transporting in the event of an emergency.
The Damen RoRo 5612, will provide a means of independent, rapid response to any situation that might arise throughout the 500-mile span of the island chain.
Damen is providing the vessel with an on board disaster package, featuring modular containers hosting a field kitchen, emergency power generators, first-aid station, drinking water treatment facilities and tools for carrying out repairs, amongst other things. The containers can easily be placed on board the vessel for transportation and unloaded when they are not required, freeing up deck space for other operations.
"With this vessel we will be able to respond to storm warnings faster, pre-deploying emergency supplies to where they are needed," says Commander Warren Bain of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, who has been in the Netherlands, working closely with Damen throughout the project. He explains: After getting the vessel to a safe place it can return swiftly after a storm to execute a plan of assistance as soon as the storm has passed.
"We can deploy this vessel wherever it is needed, not only in the Bahamas, but across the entire Caribbean region," says Commander Bain.
Recently, the Disaster Relief Containers for the vessel successfully passed their Factory Acceptance Test and were shipped from Amsterdam to Nassau, the Bahamas for local training in their use and maintenance to take place.
Commander Bain says that the training has been very successful: "It's been going very well. Two other Bahamas' Government agencies heard about the containers and came to observe the training. As a result, they have also expressed interest in acquiring similar units for their own requirements."
The Sandy Bottom Project
The Sandy Bottom Project includes a fleet expansion which includes nine Damen vessels – four Stan Patrol 4207 vessels and four Stan Patrol 3007 vessels as well as the RoRo 5612. Damen has also refitted two existing 60 m Bahamas Class vessels, to incorporate commonality with the newbuilds.
The fleet expansion project has seen a very close cooperation between Damen and the Defence Force that has been of mutual benefit.
Damen Sales Director Sander van Oord says, "At Damen we understand the customer, in this case the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, requires a certain functionality and not just vessels. They have certain responsibilities like disaster response and we try to assist in providing such capability, even when that means taking our scope of supply beyond vessel delivery. Being able to carry out fleet maintenance is another capability the Defence Force must have. This is why Damen ensured commonality between the various vessels' systems and equipment – even extending to the refit of the Bahamas class vessels – and trained crew and maintenance staff in their usage."