The RCIPS Joint Marine Unit told Cayman 27 it’s hopeful a review of the country’s search and rescue capacities will help lead to an improved level of service.
The JMU said it’s understaffed, and years of budget cuts have made maintaining its fleet a struggle.
The review will determine what capabilities the unit should have, and how to bridge the gaps identified in a report earlier this year.
“Hopefully that report, it will be able to give us the push that we need to get the resources and funding,” said Marine Commander Inspector Leo Anglin.
Inspector Anglin told Cayman 27 he welcomes the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) review of the Joint Marine Unit’s search and rescue capabilities.
“The review will outline what is needed to be effective, to provide a service to the people of the Cayman Islands and make sure we do it in a professional and effective manner,” said Inspector Anglin.
A report looking into the emergency response in the ‘missing five’ case back in March concluded there were ‘no major faults’ in the search and rescue effort. However, the so-called ‘Jenkins report’ did raise concerns of a lack of resources for search and rescue.
“It has been quite challenging for quite a few years actually, with the initial commitment that was supposed to be 27 officers from the various departments. We are at a current standing of only 13 to cover three islands,” explained Inspector Anglin of his staffing woes.
Inspector Anglin told Cayman 27 the challenges extend beyond staffing issues, and even impacts its fleet of six vessels.
“With the reduction of our maintenance budget, that plays a big role in how often we can put a vessel out on the water, how we keep them maintained and running properly,” said Inspector Anglin.
He said increased resources could also help the JMU, comprised of Customs, Immigration, and Police officers, deliver quicker response times around the clock.
“With only 13 personnel, needless to say that becomes quite challenging. Nonetheless we try to put our best foot forward, and we try to deliver a good service to the people of this country,” said Inspector Anglin.
The review will also look at the feasibility of using drones and other new technology to aid search and rescue.