The Honorable Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs, and the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson embarked on an extraordinary voyage that offered a firsthand glimpse into the dedicated work of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard. The courtesy visits to St. Eustatius (Statia) and Saba were made possible through the gracious invitation extended by the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard Director, Frank Boots and executed by his team at the Support Station in Sint Maarten.
The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard’s responsibilities encompass monitoring our borders against illegal activities, combatting illegal fishing within our territory, addressing immigration issues, enforcing rules for boaters at sea, and tackling sea pollution. Additionally, they play a vital role in search and rescue operations at sea.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Justice were warmly welcomed by Deputy Government Commissioner Ms. Alida Francis during an informal and pleasant discussion. Ms. Francis extended an invitation to the Prime Minister, and Minister of Justice to attend Statia Day ceremonies and festivities in November.
The tour continued from Statia to Saba, where the officials were received by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson. This unofficial encounter included a historical backdrop, as the mural at the Port of Saba in Fort Bay shared insights into icons of Saba’s trade, such as Ms. Rebecca Levenstone, the great-grandmother of Captain Levenstone, Mr. William “Chila” Dinzey, and others.
Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs stated that, “This voyage has reinforced the importance of the Coast Guard’s role in maintaining security and order within our maritime borders. We have seen firsthand the dedication and professionalism of the Coast Guard personnel, and we are proud of their crucial contributions to our nation’s safety. It’s also heartening to witness the opportunities our St. Maarten youth, both male and female, receive to serve in this capacity and excel in their professionalism.”
Captain Levenstone, the head of the Sint Maarten department of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, shared his insights into the Coast Guard’s mission, stating, “We take great pride in our Coast Guard fleet, the largest in the Caribbean. We carry out our duties using both surface and air units, focusing on rescue operations, detection, and enforcement in the waters surrounding Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. Our fleet includes three cutters and 12 Metal Shark patrol vessels, enabling us to effectively execute our missions which include mainly safeguarding the waters and ensuring safety for all.”
Captain Levenstone also emphasized the significance of the Metal Shark patrol vessels, stating, “The Metal Shark 38 Defiant is the designated type of patrol boat the Coast Guard utilizes. Our fleet of twelve Metal Sharks serves as our primary interception vessels. With these vessels, we conduct patrols in the territorial waters surrounding all the islands. Their slip cabin and fully enclosed wheelhouse offer protection for our Coastguardsmen in all weather conditions, ensuring an unobstructed view day and night.”
Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson commended the Coast Guard’s multifaceted responsibilities, stating, “Captain Levenstone and his team have shown us the breadth of their duties, from combating illegal activities and enforcing maritime regulations to responding to emergencies at sea. It is clear that the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard is a pillar of our security infrastructure and I as Minister of Justice, once again express my profound gratitude for their dedicated service.”
The courtesy visits to St. Eustatius and Saba, organized and executed by the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, have not only strengthened ties between Sint Maarten and its sister islands but have also highlighted the invaluable work of the Coast Guard in ensuring the safety and security of our shared maritime space.