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TRANSCRIPT: U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield Speaks at Liberian Coast Guard Naming and Commissioning Ceremony
<i>Following is a transcript of remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during a ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia, transferring two Defender-Class Patrol Boats from the United States to the Liberian Coast Guard. General William
Following is a transcript of remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during a ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia, transferring two Defender-Class Patrol Boats from the United States to the Liberian Coast Guard. General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), also attended the ceremony, which took place at the Liberian Coast Guard pier at Monrovia Harbor, February 11, 2011. Good afternoon. This is a great day for Libera. I have been honored to be with you to celebrate a very important Liberian National Holiday, the Armed Forces Day. I just came from the official ceremony and I'm very pleased to be here to celebrate another milestone in the development of the Liberian security forces. This is a great day for Liberia and The presence of General Ward, The commander of U.S. Forces Africa, and his team is indicative of the U.S. Government's acknowledgement of how far the AFL has developed since 2003, especially the Liberian Coast Guard. We are here to name and commission the first two Defender class boats procured for Liberia under the Security Cooperation program of the United States. I have used the words "first two" with the expectation that there will be more to come as the men and women of the Liberian Coast Guard become skilled in the use of these boats. If the past five weeks that the Liberian Coast Guard has spent training on these boats is any indication of the future, there will be more to come. I want to commend the members of the Liberian Coast Guard for working so hard to meet the challenge of learning how to operate these boats. These boats are not ordinary vessels. They are named Defenders for a good reason. After decades of using different types of small boats for offshore response, the US Coast Guard searched for a boat that would incorporate all of the best features of the vessels in use into one excellent boat. The result of that two year search was to award the contract for this "super boat" to SAFE Boats International of Port Orchard, Washington, USA in 2003. In anticipation of their duties, the boats were called Defenders. I can also tell you the specific metrics of these boats: They are 27 feet, powered by twin 225 horsepower outboard motors, capable of speeds in excess of 46 knots with a range of 150-175 nautical miles. I note that the United States Coast Guard bought 700 of these to defend the United States and they are in use in all of the geographic areas of the United States. Their utility has been proven again and again in my country with rescues of mariners and citizens in distress, boardings of suspect ships in US waters, setting of protective boom in response to oil spills and patrolling security zones to name a few missions. The United States is committed to ensuring that the Liberian Coast Guard receives the very best foundation and the very best boats suitable for Coast Guard missions. The capacity and the power of Defender boats are top notch by any standard. However, boats do not operate without dedicated and skilled people. You, the officers and enlisted members of the Liberian Coast Guard, are the most important part of this process. YOU are the Defenders of Liberia -- and these Defender boats are your tools. Thank you.
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