by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The Amsterdam-based Global Support and Development’s (GSD) 80-metre humanitarian vessel, M/V Dawn, docked at Port Zante, Basseterre, on St. Kitts on July 25, on a two-week humanitarian mission to hold workshops to train local first responders in the Federation.
The training is in collaboration with the GSD, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD) to build capacity in the face of the continued and growing impact of natural disasters in the Caribbean.
In remarks during the Welcome ceremony for the MV Dawn Humanitarian Vessel, Dr Michael Court, CEO of GSD, outlined the purpose of the ship’s presence in the Caribbean as one of the most vulnerable regions susceptible to the ravages of natural disasters.
“Our mission at GSD is to rapidly respond to disasters in collaboration with at-risk communities while supporting them to prepare for future disasters. It is a mission whose success will be built on the relationships and trust with communities. Trust that supports a better response – a response that is more efficient, more effective, more timely, and more sustainable. Trust that supports working alongside local organisations to understand means, address gaps and form innovative approaches and in so doing, looks to complement rather than compete with existing systems.”
Dr Court continued, “Communities in the Caribbean know better than most the importance of the relationship with the maritime environment, as well as too often the threat that climate change poses for small island states. GSD believes that the maritime connection and relationship provide a unique humanitarian support opportunity to island nations. Dawn is the manifestation of that belief, a vessel built and specifically configured to support our mission, to support partners, dedicated to that purpose and dedicated to the region.”
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr Terrance Drew continued his assertion that a hurricane will likely hit the Federation in the future and necessary work must be done to ensure minimal damage to life and the country.
“The probability of us being hit with a Category five storm is extremely high over the next few years. That means that we can see significant destruction in our infrastructure and disruption in our lives, something that we have to prepare for even for now. And while we strive to build an infrastructure that is climate-smart, an infrastructure that is resilient, we understand how extremely expensive it is.”
Dr Drew added, “We are on a trajectory to try to see how we can be more resilient, and that is why we are saying that we have to build a sustainable island state. It is the best chance for us to survive as a nation; the threat is existential, the threat is real. And so a collaboration like this with the MV Dawn vessel is extremely important because what they would offer to us is that response that we would need immediately following a storm of such magnitude to save lives, to help us to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.”
The state-of-the-art, purpose-built, self-sufficient vessel is equipped with an operation centre, an onboard medical facility with a dedicated cold storage laboratory, and a desalination plant capable of producing up to 70,000 litres of fresh water. The vessel can undertake marine survey and salvage operations and allows for helideck operations, including aircraft refuelling and underslung load cargo transfers.