Monday, April 26, 2010
On Monday, 26 April 2010, U.S. Charge d'Affaires D. Brent Hardt visited Antigua and Barbuda to sign a Proliferation Security Initiative Ship Boarding Agreement and to dedicate a new Coast Guard facility at English Harbor in Antigua and Barbuda. The cooperative agreement and the newly constructed facility will enhance Antigua’s maritime security and counter drug capabilities. Chargé Hardt signed the agreement for the United States, with Minister of National Security Errol Cort signing on behalf of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. Chargé Hardt and Minister Cort then officially opened and dedicated the English Harbor Coast Guard facility at a ceremony officiated by Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force Commander, Colonel Trevor Thomas and Major Noel Perez of the U.S. Embassy’s Military Liaison Office.
The Proliferation Security Initiative Agreement is a critical link in the common effort of the United States and Antigua to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction worldwide. It will allow the U.S. and Antigua to cooperate on ensuring that Antiguan-flagged cargo vessels are not used by WMD traffickers, which will in turn support the reliability and sustainability of Antigua’s ship’s registry operations throughout the world.
The United States Southern Command constructed the new Coast Guard facility at English Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda in order to further enhance the country’s maritime security capabilities. This facility, built at a cost of over US $500,000, will provide a strategic base on the Southern side of Antigua from which the country’s maritime units can operate. This will significantly decrease response times to requests for assistance in the region as well as assisting in drug interdiction efforts. The base is ideally placed to be able to provide support for Antigua’s annual Sailing Week, a popular yachting event that draws hundreds of sailing enthusiasts from around the world.
The United States is dedicated to working with our partners in the Caribbean to provide security cooperation and assistance wherever possible. The agreement and the construction project both reflect our shared commitment to strengthening regional security. Together with the recent visit of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to the region and our ongoing collaboration to implement President Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, these commitments highlight the deepening partnership between the Governments and peoples of the United States and Antigua and Barbuda to ensure the safety and prosperity of our citizens.