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Some Customs, Immigration officers frustrated not knowing whereabouts of UK naval ship

Some Customs, Immigration officers frustrated not knowing whereabouts of UK naval ship

Some members of local law enforcement agencies such as the Customs and Immigration departments have expressed frustration regarding the covert operations of the British Royal Navy vessel, HMS Medway, in the BVI’s territorial waters.

Commissioner of Police, Michael Mathews gave that indication while responding questions from members of the media in a press conference this week.

He said: “I know that it is a source of frustration even with my fellow law enforcement colleagues about locations and timings of the ship and so forth. And just for the record, movement of military ships are classified. I don’t get told advanced movements or where they are going to locate themselves.”

“All we’re able to do is brief Medway on what the challenges look like for us as part of the Caribbean and then they conduct their operations accordingly; working with other law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions as well as here,” he added.

Operating covert increases effectiveness

While confirming that the UK vessel remains in the territory, Governor Augustus Jaspert explained why it is essential for the location of the ship to remain classified.

“I, for operational reasons, wouldn’t be going into exactly where it is as I am sure you can understand it’s a ship that has good capabilities. But we don’t want to give those that the ship is trying to capture any advantage by knowing exactly where it is,” Governor Jaspert stated.

He added: “I am grateful for the support that it’s been given and it also has been involved in operations to capture people or drugs within our region as well.”

Governor Jaspert made a request to the United Kingdom in September for the presence of the British Royal Naval vessel to strengthen the surveillance of the territory’s borders.

The request was made after an alarming increase of smuggling incidents into the territory were reported. These incidents were said to be linked to the spike of positive COVID-19 cases during that period.

The presence of the vessel in the territory’s waters was initially met with opposition by Premier Andrew Fahie, who said he believed the BVI had enough resources to manage its local borders through their Joint Task Force which included assistance from the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands.


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