GDF to acquire EU$39.5M ocean patrol vessel to strengthen maritime security

…French company exploring establishment of modern maintenance yard in Georgetown

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will soon acquire an Ocean Patrol Vessel
(OPV) 190 valued at EU$39.5 million from OCEA S. A.
The Letter of Intent for the procurement of the vessel was signed on Wednesday, between the Guyana Government and the leading French aluminum shipbuilding company at the Finance Ministry on Lamaha Street, Georgetown.
The inked agreement covers the manufacturing of the vessel, a comprehensive logistics package with spears, and five years of maintenance of the product.
During his remarks at the signing ceremony, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Omar Khan disclosed that the significant piece of equipment will strengthen the capability of GDF’s Coast Guard to conduct surveillance and monitoring of the exclusive economic zone, response to search and rescue missions, aid vessels in distress, and control the harmful risk of maritime pollution.

Chief of Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and other officials witnessing the signing of the letter of intent

Further, he explained that the vessel will also play an integral role in the protection of Guyana’s sea assets and sovereign territory.
“The significance of Guyana’s partnering with France to embark on this project transcends borders, cultures and languages with one unifying purpose, building partnership and working together to ensure the region remains safe and secured from illicit maritime trade and other threats that threaten the peace and stability of the region,” the chief of staff said.
Senior Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh said the vessel represents the latest installment in the realization of President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s vision and commitment to ensure Guyana has an equipped army capable of discharging its functions.
Singh said the signing also represents yet another longstanding and special relationship that exists between the two countries.
“It constitutes a further deepening of that relationship including beyond economic cooperation and we are discussing several other economic cooperation initiatives with the embassy and French treasury… in the realms of defence and operational partnerships on the security side,” Senior Finance Minister said.

Maintenance yard
In addition to manufacturing the OPV vessel, OCEA S. A is also actively exploring the possibility of establishing a modern maintenance yard in Georgetown.
OCEA SA designs and manufactures maritime vessels, as well as patrol boats, passenger, cruise, environmental ships, motor yachts, tank ends, floating pontoons, multihulls, monohulls, and customized aluminum structures.
The firm serves customers in France, French Guiana, French Polynesia and Suriname and Guyana.
OCEA S. A’s presence in Guyana was established in 2014, however, serious discussions between the firm and the Guyana Government commenced in 2020.
Representative of OCEA, Yorgo Hernandez said the Maintenance Yard is part of effort to strengthen its business relationship with Guyana while ensuring that its customers benefit from regular vessel maintenance services and timely repairs to help prevent accidents.
All of which he believes are vital to maritime security and the protection of sovereign territories.

“The possibility of OCEA S. A investing in a maintenance ship yard in Guyana in the future makes sense. Such an investment will not only benefit your nation but also contribute to regional maritime development. I hope we can jointly work towards this objective,” Hernandez said.
The finance minister shared similar sentiments, noting that an endeavor of this magnitude will create employment opportunities for Guyanese in the engineering industry and enable synergy in vessel maintenance between Guyana and Neighbouring countries.
“I would encourage you to continue to explore this option because we anticipate that the opportunity will not only serve your Guyanese clientele but provide the opportunity to serve the sub region will present itself very effectively in Georgetown,” Dr. Ashni posited.

Strengthen security
In February, the Guyanese and French militaries have agreed to conduct increased joint training, with more units of the local military slated to be engaged.
At the time, GDF Colonel General Staff, Kenlloyd Roberts and a team of officers welcomed French Captain (Navy) Laurent Martin and his team for a courtesy call at Defence Headquarters, Base Camp Ayanganna, Thomas Lands, Georgetown.
It was sad that that during discussions, Guyana and France renewed their commitment to cooperate and mitigate shared challenges, conduct training and strengthen bilateral relationships.
Meanwhile, only recently, Indian firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, as part of Line of Credit the Government of India had extended to Guyana, delivered two Dornier 228 planes to the GDF. The planes were acquired to the tune of US$23.27.
Guyana’s deepening military cooperation with India encompasses a range of activities, fostering an integrated relationship spanning technology, equipment, and carious levels of training for GDF members with the Indian military. And the idea of Guyana acquiring aircraft from India was first raised back in January 2023, when President Dr. Irfaan Ali visited the Asian nation, where he toured the Indian state-owned aerospace and defense company in Kanpur and inspected their CG-767 Indian Coast Guard 18-seater Dornier aircraft.
Dubbed Guyana’s first major defence deal with India, this development to procure defence assets from the Asian Government comes on the heels of the Irfaan Ali-led Administration taking significant steps to modernise the GDF with the acquisition of new equipment and supplies, as well as capacity-building.

In an effort to fast-track the modernization of Guyana’s security sector, Government invested $42.2 billion of the country’s $1 .146 trillion fiscal package for 2024 to enhance Defence Force capabilities.
Key focus areas include expansion of the air wing, maritime assets, and Coast Guard capabilities, reflecting the government’s commitment to comprehensive defence measures.
Capital expenditure details revealed a multifaceted approach, with $1.8 billion earmarked for the upgrading of buildings, $1.5 billion allocated for marine development, and $500 million dedicated to providing essential vehicles, boats, and engines.
Additionally, a notable $16.2 billion was set aside for defence-support initiatives, emphasising international collaboration with India.
According to President Ali, the administration’s commitment extends beyond conventional defence measures, with a keen focus on cybersecurity to counter the growing threat of cybercrimes.
The Head of State explained that as Guyana continues to position itself for sustained development, it must be acknowledged that a secure environment is pivotal to attracting investments and fostering economic growth. (G1)