Chopper no good says AG

| 27/10/2008

(CNS): Miscommunication, poor documentation and rushed decisions seem to be at the root of the police helicopter fiasco according to a report for the Auditor General’s (AG) office. Following Cabinet’s accusation that the Police Commissioner had misled them over the capabilities of the helicopter and his subsequent denials, Dan Duguay (AG) has said that he was unable to find enough documentation to point fingers but that the helicopter certainly falls short of needs.

However, Duguay has suggested, given that the helicopter was purchased at a price well below its market value if it was to be sold it is likely that the vast majority of costs so far incurred could be recovered. “Evidence presented to me seems to indicate that the helicopter can be sold for most of the funds that have been expended to date on it,” he said in his report. “In other words there seems a good chance that our financial loss may not be significant."

Duguay notes, that the biggest loss is the time already spent acquiring the machine and believes that had more research been undertaken at the start of the project into the details regarding the full requirements of the helicopter and its specific operational capabilities, as well as greater documentation kept throughout the process, things may not have reached this stage.

The AG states that the helicopter purchased does have severe limitations with regards the expectations of Cabinet though not necessarily for law enforcement which is where he believes the communication problems lay. In his report he says that the Commissioner of the Royal Cayman islands Police Service (RCIPS) Stuart Kernohan had specific law enforcement activities in mind when procuring the helicopter which would not necessarily require Instrument Flight Rules capabilities (IFR) as most police operations would require clear visuals to seek out the criminals, consequently Visual Flight Rules (VFR) would have been sufficient. However, as far as Cabinet was concerned any helicopter that was purchased was expected to be capable of engaging in emergency operations and search rescue as well as law enforcement which would require (IFR).

Although Kernohan is currently in the UK as he is suspended from duty as a result of Operation Tempura, Duguay confirms that he discussed the report extensively with Kernohan who believes that the Cabinet was well aware that the helicopter would operate under VFR and not IFR. Duguay notes however, a lack of documentation regarding important meetings between Cabinet and Kernohan and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAAof CI) and Kernohan.

He states that from the very beginning the RCIPS failed to produce a documented needs analysis and that the closest thing to a needs analysis is a Cabinet paper dated 23 November 2006 that defines the government’s expectations which includes emergency evacuations as well as police and border patrol needs. Moreover, Duguay suggests that Kernohan did not appear to define his position to government or the CAA hence the miscommunication.

The AG describes the drive to purchase the helicopter as rushed, although it was clearly good value and more importantly the only one to come on the market for a considerable period. Duguay concludes that even though the commissioner was aware of certain problems relating to IRF, flotation devices and the autopilot, he was unable to confirm if the commissioner (as he asserts) related these problems to the Cabinet or the CAA as there was no supporting documentation for the various meetings that took place between the parties during the procurement process and the refit.

“What was discussed at those meetings is unclear as there were no verbatim minutes of items discussed,” Duguay states in his report and says that he would have thought that Cabinet papers would have been produced for such important meetings.

He says a consultant should have been hired before the purchase rather than after and Duguay states that if the helicopter, currently in Louisiana, is to be sold and the process started again he cites the importance of engaging an expert consultant.

While the AG acknowledges he is no helicopter expert he noted that during the production of the report he learned a number of things and points out that experts note that the list of requirements for this helicopter seem exceptionally wide and that asking for one machine to have such a diverse capability may well be outside the government budget.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Jealousy is the biggest problem in this Island.  Everyone wants to be the star in the limelight in this small little rock.  Egos greedily lusting for fame and fortune.  If we could get rid of the problem of jealousy, and egos greedily lusting for fame and fortune, we would probably be able to solve every single problem in this island. Cause, sad to say, those are the real root causes of the problems.

    But who cares about solving the root causes of the problems.  Lets just keep applying medication for the symptoms, but never to bother with the integrity to solve the root causes of the problem.  Attitude adjustments and soul make overs.  Bible calls it renewing your mind to the ways of righteousness.  But let me not talk too much Bible here right now, or many will probably just brush past my input. 

    I said it before, and i will say it again.  I believe Mr. Kernohan is a diligent crime fighter and puts his life on the line to fight crime, knowing very well that he does put hisown life in danger to do his duty on the Police Force to fight crime.  What i don’t believe Mr. Kernohan knew is that when he stumbled upon what appeared to be crime in High Places in the Police Force and chose to oppose it, that he would be stripped of his duties shamefully and sent away by the Government Authorities of this island and then be blamed for a wrongful purchase of a helicopter.  It is noted that is was at a great price even so that the country wouldn’t lose any money to re-sell it, and the only one available at this time to purchase.  So what is the problem?  I’m sorry, i have to take Mr. Kernohan’s side on this.  I believe what Mr. Kernohan says is true.  Go figure, the Government doesn’t even have a minutes of the meeting documented?  What, did it get thrown away?  I’m really confused over the way the Government handled those meetings with Mr. Kernohan and the helicopter issue.  The Goverment has the authority over Mr. Kernohan, so i blame the Goverment for not handling the meetings and documenting them appropriately.  It’s so clear to see that Mr. Kernohan is not the fault here!  Open Your Eyes and See!  Look at all the facts!  It is appalling! 

    Crack cocaine causes alot of the misery regarding all the crimes on the street, alot of the murders, and most if not all of the robberies and burglaries and some of the domestic abuse.  Crack cocaine can only be in this island by people smuggling it in on boats or planes.  Most of it comes in by boats.  I am sure that is one of the areas also that Mr. Kernohan was attempting to put great effort towards. 

    That is what would be soliving some of the root causes of those problems.  If you can stop alot of the drugs from coming in to the island, then you will automatically also stop alot of the violence, robberies, murders, abuse and assaults, etc.  I believe Mr. Kernohan was looking to solve those root causes with the help of the helicopter. 

    But again, i say this, there is no greater way to solve all of the problems than to teach people to renew their minds to a mind of righteousness.  Kindness to one another is the greatest way to teach that.  If everyone would give kindness and receive kindness to one another, we would live in a perfect world.  Be kind to one another.  That goes for the Politicians, we all learn from you.  So when we see you are not kind to one another as the Rulers and Leaders of us, then you teach us your ways of unkindness, so don’t blame us when we commit unkind things too.  We learned it from you.  What goes around comes around.

    A broken-hearted fed-up Caymanian that doesn’t know who to trust anymore to Lead this Country!



  2. Anonymous says:

    "Miscommunication, poor documentation and rushed decisions …"  Why did the Auditor General not just simply say this fiasco is attributable to bad governance and poor leadership? Why not call a spade a spade instead of tip-toeing around the truth and sugar coating the issue? 

    The Auditor General’s mention of  vague things and events rather than trying to achieve a clear focus on personal accountability of the people involved is yet another symptom of what is wrong with our country.

    So the AG places the blame on ""Miscommunication, poor documentation and rushed decisions …"?  As if the communiques, documents and rushed decisions simply materialised out of thin air!  Mr. Auditor General, if you have investigated this matter with enough depth to conclude that the decision to purchase the helicopter was due to miscommunication, poor documentation and rushed decisions,  surely you must know who was responsible for same, right? And yet you offer us the lame excuse that you do not have enough information to point fingers? Rubbish!

    It nauseates me no end when the bitter medicine of poor governance, ineptitude and outright lies are continually fed to us in a big spoon of sugar with the expectation that if there is enough sugar we will simply swallow it without reservation.  Certainly the people of the Cayman Islands deserve better than this!  

    To put it bluntly, Mr. Auditor General. you answer is not good enough! Come now, Mr. Auditor General:  I want you to answer, in plain English,  WHO was responsible for the miscommunication and accepting same!  I want to hear WHO was responsible for the poor documentation and for accepting same!  I want to hear WHO was responsible for making those rushed decisions! 

    You seem to think the people of this country are going to believe that "No One" was the author of the communiques and documentation you mention as faulty. And how is it that you can draw a conclusion  regarding "rushed decisions" but you do not know who made these decisions? If what you say is true then you are among the inept and incompetent. Or, your are party to one of  the most pathetic deceptions I have heard in a long time! Which is it?

    I think the people of this country are paying you for a job you are only half doing!  We deserve better answers that you are providing. We deserve to know who to hold accountable for the fiasco. Are you up to the job, Mr. Auditor General? Or are you going to offer us a bit more sugar – like your mention that we can recoup the wasted money – and hope we simply swallow down the bad governance underlying the issue and let you off the hook? 

    Perhaps even more disturbing is that our people continue to swallow the bad medicine with little more than a quiet and meek murmur. In days past, the public outcry would have been loud and compelling. No we balk a bit and then go back to "business as usual"  while our country goes down the tubes.

    I can only hope and pray that the electorate of this country will heed the alarm bells going off in our land and wake up from their semi-comatose state well before election day and demand better leadership for our country before we continue further on the slide down the slippery slope to ruin.

  3. Jedi Dread says:

    I agree with "According to our news".. 

    And I so appreciate, a factual presentation.

    This govt. has no diligence, due or otherwise… period.

    It’s the same group that lets the DOT run CAL, with empty flights to IAD, burning all that fuel, instead of concentrating on the region, ie., Central America and the Caribbean. Cuba’s a start, but we’re Caymanians doing business in Central America, that’s why the boat is so full. Eyes Open, please.

    Again, there’s nothing going on but "The Blame Game", the Rent and the CUC., ya see mi!?

    They are pushing and publicising this helicopter fiasco and all of their other misdirection, to cover-up the obvious inadequacies, for example….

    The millions for the helicopter, would have served better the Small Business Owners (the staple of any thriving economy) as start-up or just keep my business running capitol. Economies fluorish regardless of external Financial Crisis; because of a strong small business community. People still gotta eat and get their hair did.

    By the way, in the long run, it looks like the days of the "Ole Tax Haven" are soon to be gone, and whatever that will take with it. Better have some other Cogs and Gears a running, and a couple hundred stashed in the mattress.

    But, alas, the guys up there on the "Hill", always seem to just fall short of whatever the task is, that presents itself.

    They always seem to just fall short.

    Jedi Dread


  4. Anonymous says:

    I suspect the comment "According to our news" was probably submited by Kernohan or a cronie of his, the whole thing is and always was a total waste of money.  The current rotary aircraft can do all that is necessary, if it reallly is necessary.y  This country needs funds, not totally unnecessary expenses.  Where is/was the need and cost/benefit analysis in this ridiculous idea anyway?

  5. Anonymous says:

    According to our news archives the RCIP helicopter purchased  is an Eurocopter EC 135, "the best selling light twin of the past 10 years" (, and not the obsolete, unrelated 1970/80s-era chopper paired with this article. 

    The EC135 is a state-of-the-art chopper with an advanced composite material airframe (corrossion resistant), which is lightweight (greater range), and utilizes "phase modulation blades" for smooth and stealthy opperation (read: sneaky).  Anyone serious about crime fighting should be interested in intercepting the illegal importation of criminal goods (specifically guns, ammunition and drugs) and should be excited about getting a stealthy craft into active service for Cayman.  This is not a tourist chopper.  Further the efficacy of a crime-fighting chopper is well proven and documented in our news archives. 

    Alas, it sounds like Cabinet didn’t want a light weight crime fighting helicopter.  It wanted a larger medium-weight offshore search and rescue chopper, which would offer no stealth, which would likely need expanded crew (4+?) and necessitate a larger operating budget to patrol the extensive range of all three islands (see  Fair enough.  

    However, it’s comical to read the claims that Cabinet was misled, years after the fact.  Anyone with 3 minutes and an internet connection could have informed themselves about the EC135’s capabiities, even way back in 2002 – and Cayman papers could have published an accurate and fair description for the good of the people of these islands. 

    Importantly, the People of Cayman should really inquire what due dilligence and process is performed before our funds are authorized for major capital projects?  It would be more healthy to debate and question that point than the necessity of a Crime Fighting helicopter.  

    In any case, propose 3 remedies (assumes crews and budget): 

    A. Sell the RCIP EC135 and hope for even dollar; allocate proceeds to purchase radar and/or 2  used search and rescue helicopters for HM Customs – station one crew at Owen Roberts and the other at Gerrard Smith for sister islands; double the maint budget and running costs. 

    B. Bring the RCIP EC135 to Grand Cayman and purchase an economical fixed wing craft for HM Customs to patrol offshore and sisters to locate any intruders or wayward sailors; circle there, and dispatch the new HM Customs intercept boats to those coordinates. Better yet, purchase one larger STOL-prop airliner for Cayman Airways service to sisters and relinquish an existing  Twin Otter to HM Customs for night missions.

    C. Bring the RCIP EC135 to Grand Cayman, maintain UK or US assistance to patrol the sisters airspace for intruders on their dollar, with coordinated response and intercept with HM Customs boats. 

    Please Note:  I am not a crime fighter, just a concerned citizen interested in restoring the peace and tranquility for which these islands are famous.  That should be our primary objective with this project.