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Chairman‘s Speech - CMOU celebrates 20 years

Ladies and Gentlemen Welcome to this 20th Anniversary Dinner. Indeed this is not only an occasion to meet and share a delightful meal, but also for us as members of the CMOU to meet, mingle, network and reflect upon our achievements and successes.

As I look around, I am truly pleased to see so many of you here with us tonight. Your attendance is important because all of you at this dinner (and those who could not be here with us) played a critical part in making the CMOU as successful as it is today.

Therefore tonight, permit me in the next several minutes to take you on a very brief historical journey of the CMOU (aka the small vessel) because, as we know too often, out future is informed by our past.

Twenty years ago, on February 9, 1996, in Barbados, nine (9) States of the Caribbean(Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago) took the decision to embark on a voyage to ensure that the vessels traversing the environmentally sensitive seas of the Caribbean were of a high standard and that the seafarers operating on these vessels were being provided with a proper environment to work and rest. In 1996, I am sure that many of us were not very sure how we would get things done with so many issues affecting our region both politically and economically.

Fortunately for us we had a very good captain in Commander Curtis Roache of Trinidad and TOBAGO with his first officer of Capt. Hopeton Delisser of Jamaica to lead us through the stages on infancy. They were well assisted by Ms. Valerie Browne of Barbados. This combination was a great start for the MOU and lasted from January 1997 until October of 1998 where by the fleet had grown to ten members.

The late Capt Barrie Rial then took over the helm in 1998 with his junior officer of Ivor English of Guyana and as we increased in scope the decision was taken to relocate the small vessel to the port of Kingston Jamaica in 2002 with a fleet size now at 11 members. At this time, Lt. Cdr. Leighton Bennett from Jamaica took on the day-to-day operations with company support from Ms. Dionne Thaxter.

This able crew continued to steer the CMOU until October of 2003 when a new captain was named in Mr. Ivor English along with me as the new first officer. By this time, the fleet had grown to 12 members and the interest in joining the most able organisation was growing.

The CMOU continued to grow from strength to strength becoming more technically oriented which showed the need to have our own data gathering system. As such in 2005 we opened our Caribbean Maritime Information System, which had a homeport in Suriname. From its inception to this day, this system has been manned by the Database Manager, Mr. Majere Ajambia. As many of you know, data gathering is crucial to the development of any organisation and with this new technology, we were able to track trends in the standard of shipping traversing our seas.

Regrettably, in 2006, we had to say goodbye to the company operator, Lt. Cdr. Leighton Bennett who had to return to his primary post as an officer of the Jamaica Defence Force. As such, the very capable, Ms. Katarina McGhie took over the reigns as Secretary on October of 2006.

Further in 2008, the captaincy of the vessel was passed on to me with my first mate of Capt. Dwain Hutchinson of the Bahamas. Our fleet size was still at 12 but we were certain that this was going to increase as we heard rumours of the Europeans showing an interest in our company.

In 2008, our growth continued upward. While our fleet grew to 13 members, unfortunately, Ms. McGhie secured advancement and moved on to another position on the maritime sector. She was replaced by our current Secretary General, Mrs. Jodi Barrow.

In 2009, we also saw the start of our CMOU PSC Seminar in the Cayman Islands which was our first CMOU sponsored training programme for our PSCOs. Originally scheduled for 2008, it had to be postponed at the last minute due to Hurricane Paloma. The reviews in 2009 were very positive and we knew that we were on the right track.

The increase in membership continued in 2010 when the fleet grew to 14 members and then in 2011 to 15 members with the acceptance of our first European member.

The small vessel known as the CMOU continued through the next period of rocky seas and tight resources. It ploughed through with the determination and strength from all of its crew and more importantly the fleet of 15. With persistence, these 15 members continued to develop the CMOU with the inception of a new digital manual of operation, revised and updated codes and policies and further training of its most important human resources.

Membership continued in 2014 with the acceptance of an associate member who joined on in full in 2015. As well, another associate member joined in 2015 moving our current total number of members to 16 and 1 associate member.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I must emphasize that everyone one of you in this audience tonight and a few not here with us have given enormously of your time and energy and contributed to this organisation in one way or another over the last 20 years. From a personal point of view have stayed faithfully by my side since 2008. Together, we have made the CMOU a resounding success. Together, you have made it possible for "US&qout; to gather here tonight celebrate this milestone anniversary. For taking this journey and supporting the organisation along the way, I am enormously grateful to all of you here tonight and those who are absent.

The period of twenty years is both a long time and a very short time. On one hand, compared to a giant such as the PMOU nearly at 50 years, our organisation is still an adolescent. On the other hand, the elapsed time of twenty years with constant advancement is a remarkable achievement for which we should all be proud of - it is due to your unrelenting support and unwavering commitment. Clearly this commendable achievement means we have managed to establish ourselves in this sector while continuing to effectively deliver our mandate.

In closing, I thank you for successfully sailing with me in our small vessel, for being here this week, and for diligently and unwaveringly supporting "US" over the past twenty years.

Based on our achievements to date, I firmly believe our future is a solid one. With elevated confidence and consistency in purpose, I look forward to greater achievements for our small vessel as it continues to sail smoothly and steadfastly into the future.

Thank you.

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