British Virgin Islands (BVI) – Her Majesty’s Customs’ is the recipient of vessel ‘Searcher’, the fourth of its kind purchased by the government of the Virgin Islands, to strengthen capability in protecting the island’s borders. ‘Searcher’ is said to be a well-outfitted 39-foot grey and black high-speed interceptor Midnight Express.
Premier and minister of finance, Andrew A. Fahie, gave God thanks at the vessel’s official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 5, for giving the government the will to be able to purchase a vessel that would allow the members of Her Majesty’s Customs to provide continued exceptional service to the people of the Virgin Islands.
The premier stated that the government continues “to build the capacity of the Virgin Islands and continuously strengthen local resources; adding to the physical resources as well as training of staff.”
Premier Fahie also noted the importance of His Excellency, Governor John J. Rankin being a part of the occasion, as they intend to work together in their respective roles in keeping the borders safe.
His Excellency expressed his hopes for the new vessel. “ ‘Searcher’, I wish you well in your searching,” the Governor said. “I wish that this will be successful for the betterment of every one of us on these islands.”
Acting financial secretary, Jeremiah Frett in his remarks said the sacrifices of Customs Officers and all law enforcement officers enables the Territory to maintain a comfortable standard of living.
“As these brave officers perform their duties effectively, we must ensure that they are equipped with the necessary resources to succeed. M.V. Searcher is one of those resources, and 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,” Frett said.
Commissioner of Customs, Wade N. Smith spoke about the growth of the BVI’s maritime operations over the past two decades and highlighted the humble beginnings of the maritime operations. He also acknowledged the hard work that was done to achieve the standard of the department today.
“With the dedication of this vessel, the Territory should be proud knowing the commitment, dedication and sacrifices made by the Customs team. National Security begins and ends at the borders,” Smith said.
The commissioner also extended greetings and gratitude to US Customs & Border Protection officers who were present at the ceremony.
“US officers have worked alongside their BVI counterparts in the fight to keep the borders of the greater Virgin Islands safe. I welcome our colleagues from the United States Coast Guard and US Customs and Border Protection Agency who are part of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task-Force, and who provide marine and air support during our operations,” Smith said.
Following the ceremony, the premier had the honour of taking “Searcher” out on the water for its first sail.
H.M. Customs is committed to serving the government and the public with professionalism, fairness and integrity by providing quality service, maximising the collection of revenue, protecting the Territory’s borders and facilitating legitimate trade efficiently, effectively and economically in order to safeguard its well-being and security.