Friday, December 11, 2020

Bahamas and United States Sign Search and Rescue Agreement

The Bahamas signed an agreement with the United States for search and rescue missions saying that it will give formal recognition to what has been going on in the past.

“A requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO) is that all member states should have an effective Search and Rescue (SAR) regime or engage the services of a service provider or another State to provide the SAR services.

“While the United States of America (USA) Coast Guard frequently assists The Bahamas with search and rescue missions for downed or missing aircraft, there is no formal arrangement that governs such assistance,” said Tourism and Aviation Minister, Dionisio D’Aguilar.

“In this regard, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation assisted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority held a series of meetings with US officials to negotiate the framework for cooperation between the two States for carrying out activities related to Search & Rescue within the aeronautical and maritime environment of The Bahamas,” he added.

He said the agreement will allow Nassau to grant provide permission to the Rescue Coordination Centre, Rescue sub-center and Search & Rescue facilities of the United States to coordinate and conduct Search & Rescue operations in its territorial waters as well as to enter, overfly and land as appropriate, in Bahamian territory, in the conduct of Search & Rescue operations.

US Embassy Charge d’Affaires, John McNamara, who signed the agreement, praised all stakeholders for ensuring that the system had been brought into fruition.

“The United States Embassy, via its Coast Guard liaison, is pleased to partner with our brothers and sisters in The Bahamas to assist with search and rescue operations,” he said, adding “it has been a long and hard journey to finally make this a reality.”

D’Aguilar said that each party will bear its own costs arising from its participation in SAR operations or in any other activities within the scope of the agreement, except as may be agreed otherwise by the parties in writing in advance.

“This agreement is a critical component of the government’s plan to assume control of the country’s sovereign airspace and to enter into a formal agreement for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to manage the upper level of the Bahamas’ airspace.”

D’ Aguilar said that recently the government received a letter from the FAA advising what it will cost The Bahamas for them to continue to operate the airspace.”

“I will advise at the appropriate time their cost, once we finalize our agreement with the FAA; but needless to say, I am very pleased that we have passed that hurdle because cost to The Bahamas was a major consideration. Now that it has been determined we anticipate the resumption of negotiations early next year to conclude the overarching air navigation services agreement.”

This is the second agreement signed by the two countries this year.  In January, the two countries signed an air service agreement.

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