Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has raised questions about the work of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) in Union Island in the wake of an attack on two persons aboard a 39-foot sailing vessel in early October.

Mark Beiser and Tina Curtin were injured during the attack and reports are that the Coast Guard did not respond to their distress call.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, told Parliament this week that the Coast Guard officer monitoring for distress calls at the time of the attack, said nothing was received at the base in Calliaqua.

Gonsalves explained that VHF waves can be disrupted by items in their path and this could explain why the Coast Guard did not receive the call.

“I just don’t understand. You put all the facilities in place — VHF radios, GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System).”

The GMDSS provides the capability to receive alerts from persons or vessels on a GMDSS handset.

“I asked the Commissioner this morning. I said, ‘Listen, we have an RRU unit down there?’ I was so frustrated when I got this thing. I said, ‘What happened?’” Gonsalves told Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question tabled by Opposition lawmaker Terrance Ollivierre, MP for the Southern Grenadines, where the attack took place.

Gonsalves said he inquired about whether officers from the RRU, a tactical unit commonly referred to as the “Black Squad” because of their black uniform, only go to the wharf when the vessels arrive then go get a drink.

“What is happening? How is this taking place? Of course, you have good RRU officers down there, but you get frustrated. And you have to insist that a greater effort be made by all concerned, including the community, because the community knows who these persons are, who go and harass the yachties,” Gonsalves said.

He further said that the Witness Protection Special Measures Bill, which is at the select committee stage in Parliament, provides for video evidence to be admitted in court.

“In that law, we will be able to take the evidence from overseas by video link, which evidence would be accessed in precisely the same way it takes place in the court room in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

“We have to stamp this thing out,” he said in reference to attacks on sailors.

“It is our livelihood. This country has had to make adjustments. First it was cane, then arrowroot, bananas, … we always have to be adjusting and now we are making real sacrifices in building this tourism sector and putting in the infrastructure,” he further stated.

“You have a number of people who just want to mash up this thing. And we have to, and I am appealing to the community to help us with the policing. I am appealing to the police, the Coast Guard, what you want, tell me. I will do my best,” Gonsalves said.

4 replies on “PM questions non-response of ‘Black Squad’ to yacht attack in Union Island”

  1. Gonsalves words are not strong enough, he should be raving mad and be seen to be raving mad. Instead of calling his political opponents nasty names, he should show that kind of contempt for all these officials. He should put all those officers on suspension, black squad and everyone who listens to the emergency radio stations.

    He is the minister in charge of all these people, either get them under control or resign.

    1. The Game Changer says:

      Is this Vincent Beach talking? What is sad so sad is the fact you continue to feed off the nation purse when so many young people out there can’t find jobs and have nothing to do. That is sad so sad!

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    16 and 15 yr olds charged! Very interesting. This incident as sad as it is also points out that the so-called education revolution is not working. From this horrible saga I doubt these youngsters were attending school; if they were then something is definitely wrong. Poor SVG.

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