MEXICO CITY – The Mexican navy on Thursday unveiled a new $60 million patrol craft to monitor the country’s coastline and territorial waters and aid in the anti-drug trafficking fight.
During the launching of the Independencia, at the port of Salina Cruz in the southern state of Oaxaca, President Felipe Calderon said that the vessel will be a key element in “rescue duties, helping the civilian population, ... and supporting (other) boats in case of emergency.”
The craft has a 76 mm (3 inch) deck gun, a helicopter and a fast interceptor launch on board.
Mexican shipyards are currently at work on two other patrol craft and two Polaris II-class interceptor vessels.
Calderon said that since he took office in December 2006, the budget for the navy increased nearly 75 percent, to more than 16 billion pesos ($1.2 billion).
The president said that the Mexican navy has been on the “first line of combat” in the fight against drug trafficking.
The navy, he said, “has dealt heavy blows to crime by securing hundreds of weapons and maritime vehicles, illicit cash and, as of last week, 25 tons of cocaine and almost 65 (tons) of marijuana.”
On Monday, the Mexican navy intercepted off the Oaxaca coast two go-fast boats carrying more than 8 tons of cocaine. EFE