The Customs Department has received a new addition to its vessel fleet, with the addition of MV Searcher.
The vessel was officially launched and received its maiden voyage on Friday, March 5, at the Marine Base in Burt Point, Tortola, with officials such as Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie
, Minister for Transportation, Works, and Utilities Hon. Kye Rymer, among others.
“I am pleased that the Government of the Virgin Islands
was able to purchase this vessel that will help you to further keep the people of the Virgin Islands
safe,” said Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie
He added, “My prayer is that God sails with the team wherever you go; may God keep you safe as you navigate the waters.”
Commissioner of Customs Wade Smith said he was pleased by the newest addition to the department’s assets.
“The storms of 2017 left us without a vessel, inoperable and unable to secure the borders. However, within the last year and a half, we have been fully restored,” he remarked.
Smith added, “In addition to the recently acquired Midnight Express by the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Virgin Islands
Law Enforcement Agencies marine capabilities with high-speed interceptors are second to none in the region. Combined, the replacement value of these assets can be in the vicinity of $2.5 to $3 million.”
The Commissioner of Customs further mentioned that the investment in the department has borne fruits.
“This investment made to secure our borders yielded significant returns in the fight against transnational crimes that are intercepted here in the Virgin Islands
. Transnational crime such as hundreds of millions of dollars in drug seizures, millions of dollars in bulk cash seizures, and interception of illegal migrants.”
Financial Secretary Jeremiah Frett, who also delivered remarks at the ceremony, said the MV Searcher would assist Customs in ensuring that the BVI sees a reduction in crime, secured borders and more patrols.
“We only ask two things of you, Commissioner of Customs and other end-users of this vessel, keep this vessel maintained at all times and demonstrate good sailing and navigation skills to avoid any accidents on the high seas or otherwise. We celebrate the launching of this fine vessel; she will be an essential tool as we continue to make strides towards building the BVI that we aspire it to be,” he added.