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LA sends ‘strong message’ to Governor with search and rescue vote

Does Cayman have the right resources to save lives at sea?

The country’s 18 elected representatives were back in their seats this morning at the Legislative Assembly, after a nearly two weeks adjournment. The members will discuss police resources and the response to the case of five boaters who went missing at sea in March.

“The helicopter we purchased, we didn’t see to it that that helicopter was fit for purpose,” said East End MLA Arden McLean, admitting the government he was once a part of dropped the ball back in 2009 when purchasing the RCIPS helicopter.

“I believe there were some omissions on our part, and I also believe there were omissions elsewhere, and I also believe we failed in some regard out of ignorance,” he said during Monday’s (25 April).

Mr. Mclean said the Eurocopter EC-135 is not suitable for the sort of water rescue operation police were faced with after five boaters were reported missing on March 6th.

Opposition leader McKeeva Bush agreed, saying the chopper is fine for chasing cars and motorbikes on the highway, but ill suited for maritime rescue scenarios.

“We live on an island. We must have the equipment and the right human resources to cope with the ocean where most of the incidents happen,” said Mr. Bush.

What are we doing with the boats in the north sound when the north side of the island is rough??

Mr. McLean pointed to the Joint Marine Unit’s 65 foot vessel, the Defender, which damaged its propeller trying to leave the North Sound on the morning of March 7th. He said this avoidable incident demonstrates the need for better resource management and training. He said the Marine Unit, with it’s ably equipped fleet of boats is well-resourced.

“Unfortunately, we have had some unprecedented difficulties and problems with these boats. Some of it, I submit, is from lack of training,” he said.

Mr. McLean did acknowledge the inherent danger search and rescue personnel face in the most trying of circumstances.

He hopes the victims family will find themselves closer to closure knowing corrective steps will be taken.

Monday afternoon, all 18 legislators reached a compromise and sent what was called ‘a strong message’ to the Governor, asking for two justices of the peace to be appointed, one from each side of the LA to work alongside the man who will be heading up the review of the police response to the missing five at sea.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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