Several of the engineers at the Tradewinds Mercury outboard engine training
Several of the engineers at the Tradewinds Mercury outboard engine training

Military vessel engineers get firsthand training on Mercury outboard engines


BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Engineers from partner nations who are participating in the June 4-12 leg of Exercise Tradewinds 2018 are learning the ins and outs of the Mercury outboard engine that is featured in many small military vessels used by most security forces in the Caribbean region.

The training is taking place at Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department at Bird Rock in St. Kitts. Areas covered are electrical, mechanical, computer diagnostics, and various online tools that help with the maintenance of the engine. A practical component of the course will see the men and women, armed with a wrench and other tools, get their hands dirty by working on an actual engine.

Lt. Commander Jason Plumley of the United States Coast Guard said the aim of the course is to get the engineers officially recognized by the manufacturers of the engine. “We’ve found that there are a lot of difficulties in the region with understanding these really big, high horsepower engines, so we invited a representative from Mercury Headquarters in Florida to certify our partners in different maintenance items,” he said. “When it comes down to it they can do maintenance on these things and not be afraid of … voiding the warranty and invalidating the work they have done on it.”

The cost of shipping damaged engines back to the United States for repairs, and the extended time period that the boat will be out of commission while repairs are being effected, could be potentially disastrous for residents and visitors in the Caribbean. “You never know when you are going to get a call that something’s happening on the water that you are going to need to respond to,” Plumley said. “So having those boats up because the engines are well maintained is a key piece of that.”

The students were praised for their keen attention and high level of interaction. “It’s been going fantastic,” he said. “We’ve got full participation and we’ve even picked up some additional students who want more education on this engine because it is a very valuable skill set – not only for the individuals while they are in the service, but also for the individuals [who] may transition out and do other things.”

Personnel from Belize, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and host country St. Kitts and Nevis participated in the June 6 session. Each successful student received a certificate, with the ultimate goal of participants sharinge the techniques with their colleagues in their respective countries.