A year after the JDF was formed in 1962, a naval arm, the ‘Jamaica Sea Squadron’ was added. The squadron’s initial equipment/vessels were three (03) 63ft wooden World War II torpedo recovery boats provided by the United States Government. They were commissioned (Her Majesty’s Jamaican Ship) HMJS Yoruba (P1), HMJS Coromante (P2) and HMJS Mandingo (P3). A training team from the (British) Royal Navy assisted with the Unit’s early development.
The Sea Squadron was renamed the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard (JDF CG) in 1966 and the naval White Ensign, naval rank insignia and Royal Navy – patterned uniforms were adopted. In 2019 the Unit was renamed the First District Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard (1st Dist JDF CG). (All JDF personnel hold substantive army ranks but those in Coast Guard service customarily use naval terminology, titles and uniform.)
That year, the 1st Dist JDF CG also disposed of its original fleet of patrol boats, which had been found inadequate. It acquired the first of three (03) 85 ft all aluminum Bay Class Patrol Boats which was commissioned HMJS DISCOVERY BAY (P4). Two (02) other Bay Class boats, HMJS HOLLAND BAY (P5) and HMJS MANATEE BAY (P6), were commissioned in 1967. The 1st Dist JDF CG acquired two (02) other offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), HMJS FORT CHARLES (P7) and HMJS PAUL BOGLE (P8), in 1974 and 1985 respectively.
The newest fleet, the County Class, were acquired in 2005 (HMJS CORNWALL and HMJS MIDDLESEX) and 2006 (HMJS SURREY).
Coast Guard Reserves Origin and Activities
JDF Coast Guard (National Reserve) is a sub-unit of the JDF Coast Guard and has been in existence since 1963. It originated from two marine reserve organisations – Jamaica Marine Reserve (Harbour) and Jamaica Marine Reserve (Coast Guard).