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French Authorities to Assist In Setting Up VHF Network For Sub-region

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, December 10, 2002 - Seafarers traversing the Caribbean waters from St. Lucia all the way to Anguilla will have an additional sense of security, when a state-of-the-art VHF Radio Extension Project becomes operational in the sub-region. On Tuesday, December 10, 2002 a French team of engineers headed by Yves Caderon wrapped a field study that brought them to various high elevations of the island to be used as possible transmitter and repeater sites.

Plans for this project were unveiled as far back as in 1996 following a meeting in Barbados which discussed a national maritime radio communications plan for the sub-region. Funded by the French Government, the initiative falls under the Regional Maritime Search and Rescue Convention, and will be overseen by French authorities under the auspices of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre based in Martinique.

“The main objective of this project is to extend VHF coverage by putting into service, a different radio station that will be remote control from Martinique and to set up transceivers which will be remote control by the Coast Guard of St. Lucia,” said Caderon of the Technical Studies Centre in Martinique.

With more mega ships carrying two thousand passengers plying the Caribbean waters, coupled with increases in leisure craft and other water sporting activities like the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) officials say the new system is needed now more than ever. According to Director of Maritime Affairs at SLASPA Dermot Saltibus, “this project fits in quite well with what is referred to as the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and this GMDS project is in effect part of that system. This is an international system of vessel alerting. Whenever a vessel is in distress it’s important that you have quick alerting followed by quick response.”

The new radio communication system when operational will also play a significant role in protecting the lives of Caribbean fishermen who frequently go missing when venturing far from port.


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