Argentine vessel Frigate ARA Libertad arriving in Barbados yesterday. (GP)

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, believes the trip of Argentine vessel Frigate ARA Libertad could present new opportunities for training in Barbados’ maritime sector.

It was just after 10:00 a.m. today, that the Argentine vessel was welcomed to Bridgetown by a gun salute from members of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF).

During a short welcome ceremony, the BDF band and the Argentine Army jointly played as a Barbadian delegation, including Minister Humphrey; Minister of Culture, John King; Chairman of the Barbados Port Inc., Lisa Cummins; Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force, Colonel Glyne Grannum; and Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Barbados, Gustavo Martinez Pandiani, greeted Commanding Officer of Training on the vessel, Captain Juan Carlos Romay and his crew.

Speaking during a press conference onboard the vessel, Minister Humphrey stressed the importance of Barbados building out its maritime sector through training opportunities onboard vessels such as the Libertad.

“We received an audit from the International Maritime Organization of our maritime sector and that audit showed 22 or 23 areas where Barbados fell down.  We have been working to repair that kind of damage.  One of the things that we would need is to be able to train persons to do all kinds of things [such as in] Port State Control, to properly monitor the kinds of ships that come and go; to be trained up and that is going to be vital as we develop outward,” he outlined.

Mr. Humphrey admitted that the reality was that Barbados did not have the resources to do a lot of things that needed to be done. However, he thanked the Ambassador for the opportunity to have Barbadians come onboard the vessel and possibly train to gain the skills needed to develop and build out the island’s maritime sector in the future.

“It is very important for us that we have the most skilled, the most trained up, most informed persons operating on the sea.  You would also be aware that for us training is a very big part of who we are.  The whole of Barbados must become a blank canvass for training; a training campus.

“I would like to see that Barbados has trained up several hundred persons in terms of building their capacity to sail ships like these, to work on ships like these, and there are many opportunities across the world,” Mr. Humphrey said.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey; Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King; and Argentina’s Ambassador to Barbados, Gustavo Martinez Pandiani, greet the crew of the Argentine vessel Frigate ARA Libertad yesterday. The vessel will be in Barbados until Wednesday, December 18. (GP)

He added that such opportunities for potential training were important for Barbados to reach the levels it desired. The Minister further noted that it would be great if staff and soldiers of the BDF would have an opportunity to work onboard the vessel in the future.

“It is a beautiful ship.  It is the first time it is here in the region and it is not the norm to visit smaller ports,” Mr. Humphrey said.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Pandiani also described today as a historic day in the 50-year relationship between the two countries.

He noted that cooperation already existed in areas such as art, agriculture, culture, sports, maritime affairs and apiculture.

Mr. Pandiani said a “beautiful programme” was planned as he presented his Government to the Barbados Government and his people to the Barbadian people through a show organized by the Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports.  

“Cooperation is a two-way highway.  We want them to enjoy Barbados’ culture and we want our guys to enjoy some of the time to express themselves.  We will have music and dance from Argentina and Barbados,” the Ambassador said.

Commanding Officer of Training on the vessel, Captain Juan Carlos Romay, explained that the mission of the training cruise was to complete the professional skills of the Argentine naval future officers.

“We have a four year academic programme at the naval academy and in the fifth year, they come on board the Libertad for their training cruise.  They take different posts on the ship to perform the skills that they will use later when they become officers…. They are now performing their last examinations and their last skills for becoming officers,” he said.

The Frigate ARA Libertad was built in an Argentine ship yard between 1956 and 1962, and performed its first training cruise in 1963.

The vessel will be open to tours from the public between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Monday, December 16, and Tuesday, December 17, before it leaves on Wednesday, December 18, for Argentina via Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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