May 25, 2017
By: Geraldine Cook
New software helps Eastern Caribbean nations expand their capabilities.
A Jamaican Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard team was busy at their base, HMJS Cagway, in Port Royal, outside of Kingston, during the last two weeks of April. Together with their U.S. Coast Guard counterparts, the team sat next to each other in a small office crowded with computers and cables to install new software that will bring the JDF Coast Guard to the forefront of technology.
The commercial maintenance and logistics solutions software, called ManagerPlus, is an easy-to-use operating system that helps organizations with asset management, tracking, maintenance, inventory, budgets, purchase orders, and reports for decision-making. Implementing it is an important technological step for Jamaica’s Coast Guard.
One of their missions is 24/7 readiness to defend and enforce the country’s maritime laws, mostly by enhancing their fleet vessels’ effectiveness in interdicting illicit activities. “We have very limited resources, so we must efficiently manage those resources,” said JDF Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Aceion Prescott, executive officer and acting commanding officer.
The new software will assist his personnel to be more effective in their operations through total asset visibility. “This particular software will be extremely useful to us. I am looking forward to seeing the full operability of this software… It looks very promising,” he added.
The software solution is an initiative by the Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT), a program through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to build partner capacity and improve maritime readiness. TAFT is part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a U.S. security strategy focused on citizen safety throughout the Caribbean. CBSI-TAFT brings technical expertise and support to assist partner nations in developing maintenance, logistics, and procurement systems to improve Caribbean maritime capabilities.
Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Suriname are signatory members of CBSI-TAFT. They have seen positive results in their operational maritime fleets. In fact, CBSI-TAFT statistics from 2013 to 2015 show that there were 41 percent more patrols and 68 percent more vessel drug seizures. These values mean that partner nation coast guards increased their patrol successes as a result of their vessels being operationally available.
Six of the 15 members of the CBSI-TAFT team worked hand-in-hand with their Jamaican counterparts to implement ManagerPlus. “We conduct class training, work with the live program, and then create our own training network that allows the country team to play with the system without affecting their own data,” said U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Kyle York, head of the CBSI-TAFT Engineer Department and lead of the program’s software installation. “Our partnership allows us to do what is best for them and for their program.” In addition to providing the software and training, TAFT provided additional hardware and network components.
“The new system has a lot of potential,” said Lt. Cmdr. Prescott. “We can utilize the same system for other areas of the Coast Guard, which will be extremely useful to all of us.”
The JDF Coast Guard team knows the new system will help them make their workflow more efficient. “We are now able to look at the complete inventory list… The sustainability that the software provides is very important for us,” said JDF Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Gowey, officer in command of the Marine Workshop. “It helps us to monitor the maintenance of the fleet more efficiently.”
Keeping up with fleet maintenance at all levels will help the JDF Coast Guard obtain valuable information in making decisions on major repairs and replacement of equipment to support their mission. “The program itself allows me to view what needs to be replaced to keep the boats in working conditions at all times,” said JDF Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Abraham Miller, manager of the Marine Workshop. “We get our chance to actually do things from a more professional point of view, less paperwork and less hands-on supervision. This is what the program really brings to us,” he added.
The software implementation initiative derived from “working with partner nations and noticing that they needed an accurate understanding of their sustainment costs,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jason Plumley, CBSI-TAFT officer-in-charge at SOUTHCOM. The software “is a foundation to our work within CBSI, and it enhances our partner nations’ mission support capabilities,” he said.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Plumley, managing information pertaining to fleet maintenance is critical for the coast guard’s maritime operations. So, the software, he added, is a commercial tool the TAFT was able to “tailor for our partner nations for their maritime needs.” Thanks to the software, he said, partner nations will be able to track maintenance and inventory while simultaneously running their operations more effectively and obtaining data to create budgets.
“It’s a tool to make the right decisions at the right time regarding the engineering capabilities of the vessels,” said Lt. Cmdr. Plumley. The overall goal with this initiative, he said, is that partner nations can obtain “higher operational availability of the ‘work horses’ of the service, or their littoral interceptors.”
The software has been received well among Eastern Caribbean nations. “They are very pleased with it,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer York. “They have been able to track things and get information much faster than in the past, and greatly reduce their work load, too.” Dominica, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Barbados have already implemented it. Guyana and Saint Kitts & Nevis will do the same in the next two months.
The new software will help the Caribbean nations continue to achieve positive results in their maritime operations. “We are greatly appreciative of the assistance from the United States,” said Lt. Cmdr. Prescott. “We remain committed to doing our share of the partnership to ensure that the assistance we receive is not going to be wasted.”