Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley cuts a ribbon to open the new Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Marine Base, while acting Governor David Archer Jr. holds the front door’s handle. (Photo: Rushton Skinner)

After their base sustained major damage from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, marine police now have a new, expanded building that they will share with customs and immigration officers.

Fourteen months after construction began, the Recovery and Development Agency handed over the renamed Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Marine Base to the Deputy Governor’s Office for operational use.

“We represent a significant partnership between three distinctive agencies to work together, to fight hard, and to ensure that we keep our territory safe. The persons who have brought us together today to deliver this particular project, I thank you immensely,” acting Governor David Archer Jr. said at the handover ceremony on Tuesday. “And lastly, a soft and signal warning to persons who utilise the waters for those means which are not what they’re intended for.”

Besides Mr. Archer, the ceremony included Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, RDA Deputy Chairman Jerry Samuel, contractor James Todman, acting Police Commissioner Jacqueline Vanterpool, Customs Commissioner Greg Romney, and RDA CEO Anthony McMaster.

Between remarks from officials, students from Elmore Stoutt High School sang the national anthem, Kyle Moses played the violin, and Linette Rabsatt read a poem.


Inside the new building, the marine police will work alongside customs and immigration officers.

“Greater collaboration will lead to a more effective enforcement of our laws. It is also well known that the BVI is the sailing capital of the world, so we often have a lot of sailboats in our waters,” said Mr. Archer, who was acting as governor because Daniel Pruce was sick at the time.

“As island people, we are always commuting from one island to another as part of everyday life. This marine base will allow us to serve this community, ensuring safety on the sea.”

Three floors of thick concrete walls house living quarters, office space and a full-size kitchen.

Inside the kitchen area, a wall of cabinets was already outfitted with an oven and refrigerator donated by Mr. Todman.


Plans to renovate the former base’s interior and roof started in February 2019, according to the RDA.

In November 2020, roughly $2 million was given to the Virgin Islands Recovery Trust to re-establish the base, officials said at the time. Of those funds, $450,000 came from the United Kingdom and $1.6 million came from the VI government. Aside from the RDA, the project involved the Deputy Governor’s Office, design consultants Trojan Design and Development Limited, and James Todman Construction Limited, which began construction in February 2023.

An official walk-through was held on April 5 of this year with DGO Permanent Secretary Sharleen DaBreo-Lettsome, stakeholders and facility users, according to an April 11 press release from the Premier’s Office.

The Tuesday ceremony this week also marked six years of the RDA’s existence.

“For our birthday, we are going to give this building, this facility, to the deputy governor, the police, customs and immigration, and to the people of the Virgin Islands,” Mr. McMaster said, describing the project as “a gift on behalf of the RDA and the government for what we expect to be done: the building of a new future for law enforcement in the territory.”

RDA’s 43rd project

Since the RDA was formed in April 2018, it has supervised the completion of 43 projects.

On Tuesday, Mr. McMaster attributed the agency’s track record to its staff.

“The staff at the RDA, they’re actually given opportunities to showcase their talent,” he said. “So we have our guiding policies, and they’re allowed to utilise their innovation to actually come up with solutions.”

He added that weekly strategic meetings help ensure collaboration.

“We agree, so by the time we agree on a solution to take it forward, we don’t have to worry about commitment, because you are part of the process,” Mr. McMaster said. “So the motivation is there, the commitment is there, and you just go out and get it done.”