Friday, February 23, 2018

Why do we need expensive LRVs?


another misstep?: Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Mark Fraser

 The Prime Minister has gone to lengths to convince us that her interest in the Chinese OPV (a large, expensive military ship), conveniently called a “LRV” (to avoid sounding like the People’s Nation-al Movement), was not a product of “vaps”. How­ever, the sequence of announcements pre­sents her with insur­moun­table difficulties.

The first we heard of a Chinese LRV was she was so impressed with what she saw (or was told), she “begged” the Chinese to sell her one. Then, in light of mounting horror back home that it may be yet another knee-jerk “misstep”, it became the “result of careful analysis” by a team who had inspected various other proposals from South Korea and the Netherlands, then later, she is considering “proposals” from a variety of possible suppliers. 

National Security Minister Gary Griffith has been brought in also  to provide back-up to the official story, but nothing except 

rapid-fire, meaningless ramblings have emerged. Whatever did she first beg for then? I sense a serious credibility problem here.

The Chinese must be very dis­ap­pointed that after having been subjected to being begged to sell us some­thing, they now have to bid with other contenders.

In all of this, will someone please tell me what exactly an “OPV” or “LRV”, or maybe several of same, is supposed to contribute to the much-touted “lock­down” of our marine borders and economic zones against drug dealers and terrorists?

We already have several fast, open-water patrol boats—that spend much of their time in repair shops. We already have six fast patrol vessels that allegedly can do 40 knots but spend most of their time ferrying prison officers to Carrera, or in repairs, and are said to make the entire crew seasick when travelling at full speed outside the Bocas.

What will an LRV or LRVs do to add to this security? Consider an LRV on patrol off Galeota where many of our oil and gas installations need protection. A call comes in stating a fast drug boat is approaching Blanchis­seuse. The LRV proceeds at full speed (30 knots?) to the north. By the time it has reached Toco, the drug boat has discharged its cargo and is headed back to Colombia, faster than any of our vessels can travel. 

A faster response is obviously by helicopter, and these can be land-based. Our economic zone is enormous and the number of LRVs or OPVs required to maintain continuous control within effective striking distance does not bear consideration.

Please tell us the plan and why it has been generated in complete secrecy until a need to explain another diplomatic faux pas arose? Why are we angling to embark on another megaexpenditure product after carefully dismantling the pre-

vious PNM argument for same?

Reg Potter