US agencies decline request to review search & rescue

| 08/04/2016 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick (Photo by Kenneth Wright)

(CNS): The United States Coast Guard and the US National Transport Safety Board have turned down requests from the Cayman Islands governor to undertake the review of the RCIPS handling of the recent search and rescue operation in which five people, including two young children, lost their lives. The governor’s office has said that it is seeking assistance from other agencies now and remains committed to undertaking the review. In a short statement Friday, officials from Helen Kilpatrick’s office explained what had happened regarding their approach to the US Coast Guard.

“Immediately after agreeing the need for an independent investigation into the RCIPS response to the missing persons at sea the governor made a formal approach to the United States Coast Guard, and on their advice, subsequently to the US National Transport Safety Board,” the officials stated. “The latter approach was made via standard diplomatic channels and both requested a review of the recent RCIPS Search and Rescue Operation. A month has passed since the request was made and it is with disappointment that we have been informed today that the NTSB is unable to assist with our request. Therefore, the governor has, today, requested assistance from an alternative suitably qualified agency.

“The governor remains committed to a review taking place and the findings from this being made public. The governor is keen that the review takes place as early as possible,” officials added.

The beleaguered police commissioner, David Baines, reportedly approached the governor regarding a potential review hours before the opposition leader filed a motion in the Legislative Assembly calling for an independent public enquiry into the handling of the missing persons report and the delayed response from the police.

The RCIPS was broadly criticised over the handling of the missing persons report which, according to both 911 and phone company records, was first made more than eight hours after Edsell Haylock, Gary Mullings and his three nephews, Nicholas Watler, Kamron (11) and his brother Kanyi Brown (9) were last spotted on Sunday, 6 March, after leaving 12 Mile Banks following a fishing trip. The group was reported missing at midnight by family members and the last recorded activity on the phones the men were using was before 4pm that afternoon.

With rough sea conditions, safety considerations and the limitations of the RCIPS chopper, boats and staff, the police management made the decision to delay the start of the search and rescue operation until the next morning. Although the 27-foot Panga boat the group had taken out on fishing trip was spotted the next day, the rough sea conditions put a strain on the marine fleet and it took hours to eventually bring in the boat.

THe RCIPS Marine Unit searched for survivors for several days with the help of local vessels, the USCG and Cayman Helicopters but no trace of the missing men and boys was found.

The tragedy came against the backdrop of increasing criticisms, complaints and questionable events surrounding the RCIPS and the commissioner.

When a few days later it was revealed that it took officers more than fifteen hours to respond to a home invasion in North Side and police management admitted another theft from the yard at George Town Police Station, the public clamour for Baines’ scalp reached fever pitch.

As a result, the commissioner agreed to quit twelve months early while being paid to the end of his contract, which was scheduled to expire in May 2017. Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis will act as commissioner until a new police boss is found.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Brougham is also scheduled to depart Cayman when his contract expires in September and the governor’s office said the recruitment process to replace Baines is expected to begin shortly.

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Category: Local News, Police

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    did they give a reason? has it being made public?

  2. Colonialist says:

    Could Jeremy Corbyn please help us with this situation since you have all this power in the UK

  3. Anonymous says:

    Helen needs to have a review of the RCIPS. It’s called proactive policing. Stopping dangerous situations before they happen. Like arresting drunks in the parking lots after observing them.tripping over themselves as they make their way to the car or enforcement of seatbeats esp for children. 3 officers were injured and volunteers put in serious dangers. Whatever they find they need to put this in context

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can’t blame the USCG or the US-DOT for not wanting to get involved in a B.O.T enquiry where a UK helicopter is involved.

    Many years back, the United States (prior to the RCIPS Euro Helicopter) offered the Cayman Islands Government (Absolutely Free of Cost) a drug interdiction and search and rescue helicopter and several drug interdiction vessels. However, mother country and others were too proud and snobby as usual, to accept this generous offer from the United States.

    Years later, the RCIPS purchased a traffic helicopter (so to speak) from the UK that cost the tax payers almost two million dollars and took several years to deliver. If that was not bad enough, the darn helicopter arrived and doesn’t even have a winch to hoist person(s) from the ground or the ocean, in the case of an emergency rescue situation. As for the go fast vessels, they went to Arkansas USA (several years later) and spend millions of tax payers money on a couple of vessels, one of which was delivered with a serious manufacturing defect.

    The RCIPS wanted to sue the manufacturer for this, as the police launch could not take it’s full capacity of fuel, without compromising the structural integrity of the vessel. Today, the police launch can’t take it’s full and intended capacity of fuel, (one tank is practically empty) meaning the vessel has lost it maximum and intended range over the ocean.

    As for the traffic helicopter, when it needs a spare part, it has to come from Europe and the cost for shipping it across the Atlantic, is as if you’re shipping gold bullions. Then, you have to fly the helicopter to Louisiana and have a US aircraft mechanic fix or repair it for them.

    What a bunch of fools we had representing us in the Cayman Islands several years ago.

    Moddy Blue, Lilla Red and Alverny from the great republic, could have negotiated and got better value for money…….. than those clowns who made decisions for us.

    Bunch of Ass^&*$# !!

    • get your facts straight says:

      Hello. Please allow me to correct you on a few things you obviously dont know.

      1) The “go-fast” vessels you speak of came from Seattle Washington. The offshore patrol vessels came from Arkansas. Both sets (4) of vessels came from reputable companies in the patrol vessel field. Both companies have several thousands of vessels deployed with proffesional organizations worldwide.

      2) The larger vessel had the issue with the rear fuel tank. The RCIPS wanted to have it rectified but due to the GOVT not abiding by contract rules and attempting to go outside the contract the deal was scrubbed. In the mean time the weep hole you are refering to was repaired and the vessel has full capabilty. This has never comprimised the vessels integrity.

      3) It was Caymanians who spearheaded the procurment of the vessels. This was done in a completely public, transparent, fair and thorough tendering process with the CI Govt Tendering Committe.

      Now for a little reality for you. If you have been reading the news lately you would have read about the few US Navy ships, costing billions, that were on sea trials and experienced major faults.

      All vessel makers experience defects in new vessels upon delivery.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Poor Helen!

  6. Anonymous1 says:

    The US is sidestepping the issue because they do not want to interfere in a territory of the UK, (Cayman being one of their long standing ally’s responsibility). However if Cayman was indeed a sovereign country, it would be a totally different matter, we would be directed and told by them as is their foreign policy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is no inquiry needed here. The answer is, don’t go out when you shouldn’t, and if you do have the BRAINS not to take out children. There is no one to blame here other than the adults. The adults who took them out and the adults who LET them take the kids out. That’s the end of it. It’s sad but let’s LEARN from it. Capital letters…..LEARN. I know it’s a hard concept but try.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Am I missing something here but the US Coastguard? Really? Your report already said they were involved in the operation. This is all a bad joke. and just about sums up the Cayman Islands. You already have the professionals here, just no one is listening to them. Save the money and listen!

  9. Anonymous says:

    And the common word on the ‘marl’ seems to implicate the adults onboard that fateful vessel with far more than negligence. Sad outcomes but there is plenty talk that these children was but ‘shields’ for a far more sinister operation. Sad all around .

    • Anonymous says:

      Rumours are not fact. What the hell is wrong with you people? And “marl road” is still no excuse for the piss-poor effort undertaken by Cayman Authorities.

  10. True Tings says:

    I am not sure why we need a review, waste of money.
    These adults knew there was bad weather as did we all. Small craft warning in effect. No safety equipment as a majority of the boats on the island.
    The seas were extremely ruff up to 20 ft. What would we be saying if the RCIPS had gone out and police officers lost their lives, blame the commissioner for sending the Marine unit.

    People have written in previous posts that the police didn’t want to do the search because of who was on board, well maybe the US coast guard are thinking the same, 2 drug dealers done gone and shame on them for taking the 2 children to do a drug run!!!!
    It may sound harsh but inoccent people suffer the consequences of bad people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, based on past police performance, if the police thought they were out there running drugs, as you say, ye ole helicopter would have been in the air on the double. Stop being an old crab in the bucket, trying to shame people.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If this had been a British man taking out his family and friends in bad weather, in a boat unsuitable for offshore fishing, not carrying safety equipment, then guess who the locals would have been blaming, certainly not the police. An independent enquiry will give these local huffers and puffers a shock when they place the blame where it really lies.

    • Anonymous says:

      Racist shite. So many tourists died or killed and no investigation.

    • Anonymous says:

      I say forget it. Let blame lay squarely where it is deserved, with the adults who took this boat out.
      Let’s move on.

  12. Anonymous says:

    No one can expect the USCG to review Cayman Search and Rescue procedures. Clearly there are problems with lack of safety equipment on board boats and going out without safety gear in small craft advisory weather makes no sense to me.
    This is not the first time someone has gone out in conditions where they did not belong. Those 2 children deserved better care.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, that may be so that boaters may disregard procedure. Happens more often than not, have you been to Rum Point in a boat on Sunday lately?

      However, there is still no excuse for the piss-poor effort under-taken by Cayman Authorities. If it was one of your family, I’d bet you would be singing a very different tune.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only the children , huh

  13. Anonymous says:

    Can’t they just use the UK Officials and Nationals Exoneration Commission like they always do? They never get it wrong.

    • Driftwood says:

      Typical small minded attitude

    • Anonymous says:

      The UK MCA and the RNLI are are world leaders in marine SAR and maritime investigation and training. Perhaps the CIG should consider looking after their own internal affairs and get a purpose built lifeboat in each district. Both onshore and all weather offshore are needed as a matter of priority, with volunteer crews trained to the high standards expected by the UK authorities.
      If a boat licensing scheme is needed to raise the money or a tax placed on marine gas then so be it, but reliance on the RCIPS as a primary SAR asset must stop.
      Stop relying on others to bail you out of your own malaise and incompetence, get the appropriate services in place, now!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I still don’t understand why this tragedy is the fault of the police. If officers had gone out and tried to find the men even immediately after they had been reported missing, the possibility of these officers losing their lives because people ignored small craft warnings and went out to sea, taking children out of school to go on a fishing trip, boggles my mind. Frankly, if the marine police had gone out and died, there would have been a hue and cry that the police caused their own deaths. At some point, the adults in this situation need to take responsibility for what happened to these children.

    • Anonymous says:

      But they can deploy the helicopter with it’s night-vision to and catch drug smugglers, without issue? Stop being so one-sided.

      • Anonymous says:

        You probably find the drug smugglers also only go out in reasonable weather. And then probably are found close to shore on their way in. Stop being so defensive on drug smugglers.

    • Expert says:

      I take it you know all the facts and have conducted the necessary inquiry and have now cleared the RCIPS of any wrong doing then?

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with everything 4:15pm,but it was a weekend, so hence they didn’t take the children out of school

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