The U.S. government will donate two Island-class cutter patrol boats with a total value of $18.9 million to the Costa Rican Coast Guard. The 110-foot ships will be the largest in the Costa Rican Coast Guard fleet when they arrive in 2017.
U.S. Assistant Secretary William Brownfield of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs announced the donation following a meeting with President Luis Guillermo Solís at Casa Presidencial Wednesday.
Solís said that the unprecedented donation would allow Costa Rica to finally have the capabilities to patrol its vast maritime territory. The current fleet can only travel 1,200 kilometers, according to Coast Guard Chief Martin Arias in a news statement.
The new patrol boats will expand that reach to 5,500 kilometers, allowing patrols to reach Costa Rica’s maritime borders with Ecuador and Colombia. Costa Rican vessels have never patrolled these waters despite the country’s claim on them.
Besides fighting drug trafficking in the Pacific, Arias said the boats will help fight illegal fishing and piracy. Costa Rica will send 50 Coast Guard officers to Baltimore, Maryland to be trained on the boats.
“This is an excellent example of the work we can achieve when our governments work together in security,” Brownfield said during a news conference at Casa Presidencial. “Costa Rica can be very proud to have intercepted more drugs than almost any country in the region. It’s a great achievement that could grow even more with additional resources.”