GDF enhances maritime defence with new patrol vessel


Guyana’s ability to defend and monitor its maritime territories will be significantly enhanced with the addition of a new offshore patrol vessel to the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) fleet.

The vessel was named the ‘GDFS Shahoud’, in honour of Colonel Michael Shahoud, who was among the five Guyana Defence Force officers who perished in a helicopter crash in December of last year.

In his remarks, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali noted that the vessel is aptly named, commemorating Colonel Shahoud’s legacy of courage and unwavering dedication to serving his country.

“As we commission this vessel, we honour his memory and the sacrifices of all who have served, ensuring their enduring contributions continue to inspire and safeguard our nation,” he expressed.

The president reiterated that while diplomacy remains Guyana’s first line of defence, the government recognises the need for robust and responsive defence capability.

“We are a peaceful nation but we are also vigilant and must understand the threat that surrounds us. Therefore, you must always be in a state of readiness to ensure the fundamental aspects of our independence and sovereignty are always safeguarded. The acquisition of GDFS Shahoud manifests our commitment to strengthen our defence response capability,” the president said.

President Ali explained that increased economic activity in Guyana and the transformational path the country is on necessitated a more coordinated national defence strategy.

The government has responded to this need and implemented an inter-agency approach that sees not only physical enhancements and the acquisition of more assets, but the building of human capacity.

“In commissioning this vessel, we are not only adding to our naval fleet but also reinforcing our commitment to a comprehensive defence strategy that protects our national interest,” he said.

According to the head of state, this vessel will also support efforts to combat illegal fishing and transnational crime.

President Ali pointed out that the government has been consistent in its efforts to bolster the GDF’s capacity, as is reflected in the notable $42.2 billion budgetary allocation this year.

The commander-in-chief noted that this allocation represents a more than $20 billion increase in allocations for the Force. He pledged that the existing quota of fleets in the Air Corps would also be expanded to meet the immediate needs of the GDF.

“Between 2020 and 2023 we have expended $11.4 billion in recapitalising the GDF. Between 2020 and 2023, we have invested more than $8 billion in major acquisitions and infrastructural development of the Air Corps and the Coast Guard,” the president told the gathering.

He continued, ”For this year, we’ve increased the capital expenditure of the force from $3.7 billion in 2023 to $20 billion. This substantial investment reflects our efforts, ensuring that the GDF is well equipped to meet contemporary security challenges,”

Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier Omar Khan reiterated that the acquisition of this vessel signifies yet another tangible step in bolstering the Force’s capacity to protect and defend Guyana’s maritime domains.

He praised the partnership between Guyana and the US as they strive towards maintaining a zone of peace.

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Nicole Theriot, also pledged her country’s continued support for Guyana’s development, especially through training and upskilling.

The 115 Defiant Monohull patrol vessel was designed and built by US-based company, Metal Shark Builds. The company has committed to working alongside the Coast Guard to operationalise the vessel.