UK coastguard to conduct search review

| 21/04/2016 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

RCIPS Joint Marine Unit and Panga boat that had been lost at sea

(CNS): Coastguard Commander Andy Jenkins from the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has agreed to conduct an independent review of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s response to a search and rescue report and the subsequent operation in March after five people were reported missing. The governor’s office released the news Thursday morning and said the UK expert was expected to arrive next week to begin the review.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency is the UK organisation with responsibility for safety of life at sea. That agency identified Jenkins, who has the technical expertise and experience needed, to undertake the review.

Officials said he has spent 19 years with the agency and 11 years of those years as a watch manager and search and rescue mission coordinator. Jenkins has coordinated thousands of incidents of all scales and types including, the MSC Napoli grounding.

In the release officials said the governor remained “committed to making the findings from this review public”.

The review relates to a report made to the RCIPS around midnight on 6 March that five people, including two children, were missing at sea, having gone fishing aboard a 27ft Panga boat earlier that day.. Given the time and circumstances, however, the RCIPS did not begin a search and rescue operation until the next morning, some nine hours after the report.

The boat on which the group of men and boys had been aboard was found the next day but Edsell Haylock, Gary Mullings and his three nephews, Nicholas Watler, Kamron (11) and his brother Kanyi Brown (9) were never found.

Family and friends of the missing group raised their concerns that the police did not handle the situation well and it became the subject of a private member’s motion filed by McKeeva Bush, the opposition leader, who asked for an independent public enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the operation.

A few hours after Bush politician filed his motion, the governor’s office announced that Police Commissioner David Baines had approached Governor Helen Kilpatrick requesting a review of the events relating to the RCIPS’ handling of the missing person report and the subsequent search, which had taken place in challenging sea conditions.

The criticisms of the police handling of the operation came against a backdrop of mounting complaints and criticisms about police management and contributed to the commissioner’s decision to resign one year before his contract expired. While Baines is expected to quit his top cop post in May, the governor’s office has confirmed he will be paid until the end of his contract next year.

The concerns were raised by the broader community and politicians following a number of questionable revelations, including the commissioner’s recruitment of a police officer from Jamaica who was charged with murder weeks after he joined the RCIPS and at least two break-ins at the George Town Police Station, including an evidence locker where a significant quantity of seized drugs were stolen.

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Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why would they refuse to call for help or ask for help from the passing boat while on 1 motor in large seas? Why would the families and those around them not report them missing till so long after they have been missing? Why would they not call from their cell phone if they didn’t have a radio (they were in cell range) for help or at least to say “we are on 1 motor if you don’t hear from us in 30 minutes come looking” and then check in each 30 minutes? This does not seem like a normal fishing trip.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone notice that there was an almost identical tragedy in Stuart, Florida about 10 days ago? In that case there was also a delay in search and rescue due to weather conditions, sea conditions, etc. The details sound very familiar.

    • Anonymous says:

      And that was the US Coastguard. Anyone asking for an independent enquiry? No! They also did not find anything on their original searches.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Waste of money. This is just to placate a few whining voters. Let’s hope he doesn’t find out another reason why they were there at sea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where I can understand the family is upset, we all would be, maybe the police should have gone out sooner, not saying that was right, BUT….the three grown men took two young children out to the banks, no radio, no phone, no life jackets, those are the ones the families should be angry at as much if not more…the police did not cause the drawing of the children and to be honest, from the time, the boat over turned at 3:45pm? and 7 hours later they reported them missing. Those swells out there, with no life jackets, they honestly didn’t have a chance….if the had a radio to call in the port authority, maybe then, but 7 hours later when it was reported sadly to say i doubt it….maybe the adults, maybe, if the were strong swimmer, but not the children…with no life jackets….

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t you all just shut up? Let the investigation take place and accept the results once released. Save your comments to after then!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope all those who hold the missing adults in this case blameless are prepared for this Coast Guard examination of the events in the case of the missing boaters. Not only the response will be examined but the conditions and safety gear present as well as the decision to go out in those conditions will be eye opening for some.

    • Anonymous says:

      There will also be mention of the fact that they had probably been in the water for eight hours before their absence was reported to the police. The fatuous attempt to concoct earlier emails may also get a look.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure, the Captain was not blameless – nobody refutes that, nor was the other captain in the other boat at bank that saw them limping on one engine and didn’t stay to escort or take the innocent kids safely to shore. What is at issue is the perception that the RCIPS had neglected their SAR capability with the deferred replacement of their IFR pilot, and that added 9+ hrs to the commencement of the search and recovery operation. They didn’t call Jerome at CI Helicopters. They also assumed that the boat would remain upright on the endurance of the remaining engine in the face of 12′ seas, buttressed with an unhealthy Caribbean attitude of “they had it coming” and “serves them right”. RCIPS Marine Unit also inexcusably crashed their equipment on their home reef cut. How can they be that inept? Should we learn, and try to do better next time? Most certainly “yes”. Hopefully this report will show where improvements need to come.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree with you 3:26 I can only hope the UK Coast Guard will force our lazy stupid government to implement proper marine laws for all boaters to comply to, like life jackets, marine radio, flares, report all departures to the Port authority when out out to sea. Also create a proper search and rescue team.

  6. Anonymous says:

    More waste of taxpayers money to satisfy a few pre-election grandstanders hungry for votes from the proletariat.Also a nice Caribbean jolly for Mr Jenkins no doubt flying out business class and probably staying at the Ritz Carlton for a few weeks. His findings can be pre-determined so exactly what will this achieve?.The costs of this enquiry should be paid by those who called for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Really?! Why don’t you stop pre-judging an investigation that has yet to happen. As always, conspiracy theories!

  7. Anonymous says:

    yawn….just another case of caymaninas taking responsibility for nothing….
    just like going after baines…always looking for a scapegoat rather than face up to the real homegrown problems……

  8. Anonymous says:

    At last, the MCA is the best for the job. Not only is this a UK territory, so it should fall to the UK to investigate maritime emergencies and incidents, but they are a world authority on SAR and maritime investigation.
    The public truly have nothing to fear from this organisation, they don’t tow anyone’s political line and give straight facts and evidence to those concerned.
    However, I’m sure that some will look for a conspiracy and UK inspired whitewash, but not in this case people. If you don’t like the outcome it will be because it doesn’t fit your personal view of the people involved or the incident as it transpired. In which case it’s you that has the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      While I’m not convinced an inquiry is warranted, the only mystery to be solved is why this UK territory requested the US Coast Guard to investigate this matter rather than turning to the appropriate UK agency.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they obviously wanted to placate thise that think the UK agency would not be seen as independent. Can you imagine the Americans asking us to go an review their procedures? No, I dodn’t think so.

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course an inquiry is needed, otherwise how can a coroner establish the cause of death? Obviously drowning is the likely cause, however every aspect needs to be examined in order to establish ALL the facts so that those who made decisions are held accountable, whether they be right or wrong.
        Cayman must understand that the obvious isn’t always the truth and that lessons must be learnt from tragedy. Regulations come from these lessons and hopefully lives can be saved in the future, this is how responsible nations behave and progress.
        The MCA is the best and stupid class comments by deadhead little islanders won’t help anyone, it only serves to massage their own insecurities and sense of victim hood.
        Grow up Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, why didn’t the family and friends raise concerns about them going out in the boat in the first place.

    • SSM345 says:

      2:10, do you know there was a fishing tournament on the day and there were about 40 boats around the island / at the Bank where they went fishing?

      There is an inherent risk every time a person goes on a boat, it could be flat calm but you still have a risk of never coming back. Same when you get in your car everyday you moron.

      • Anonymous says:

        I believe there was a weather warning!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hate to pop your self righteous balloon but there was a small craft advisory and conditions make a huge difference in a small boat. When the searching began only 50 foot long boats were used. So your argument is hot air.

      • Anonymous says:

        To 3.09pm Forty boats and the missing boaters were spotted by only one fisherman?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just to conclude the RCIP did there job. The boat owner was negligence and should be prosecuted in absentee for criminal manslaughter for having no life vest on board or on the children.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I thought this was to be an independent review

  12. A Nony Mouse says:

    It’s about time SOMEONE stepped forward to investigate this tragedy!

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