The new RCIPS Helicopter arrives on Island today (Friday 6 December). This second helicopter, another Airbus H145 model, will sit alongside the RCIPS Air Operations Unit’s existing H145, which arrived on island last March and was purchased as part of a joint deal between the UK and Cayman.
This H145 is the replacement for the EC135 helicopter, which suffered a forced landing earlier this year after it experienced a technical fault. With two helicopters on Island it will increase Cayman’s capability to carry out search and rescue, law enforcement and border protection operations. Both aircraft will support disaster relief efforts and will also be available to assist other Overseas Territories during times of crisis. The delivery of the new helicopter will also mean that the Cayman Islands will no longer be without air cover during the times of these deployments, and also the required maintenance periods of the aircraft in the US.
Both aircraft will be fitted with state of the art surveillance systems, weather and SAR radar, together with winching capability, due to commence early 2020. All operational crews will be undertaking the required training for the new equipment over the next six months.
In September this year the existing H145 helicopter and crew deployed to The Bahamas in support of the relief effort following Hurricane Dorian. The crew were tasked with medevacs of injured people, transporting essential specialists and carrying vital equipment, flying 46 hours in 6 days, proving the effectiveness and reliability of the H145. The Air Operations Team worked alongside RFA Mounts Bay who was also on the scene to assist.
“With this second helicopter, the Government is continuing its objective of investing in the physical assets and equipment that a modern police service needs. It is part of our continued effort in providing support for security, law enforcement and disaster response for the Cayman Islands and our Caribbean Overseas Territories as well as local deployments for border security and maritime search-and-rescue,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin.
The Governor, Mr Martyn Roper said: “Today marks an important day as we see both helicopters on Grand Cayman at the same time. Having two aircraft available means we are better able to support law enforcement efforts across the Islands and protect our borders, improve our search and rescue efforts and provide medevacs when needed. We have now doubled one of our most important resources in the event of a hurricane and we are also better equipped to offer support to our Caribbean neighbours, just as we did over the summer in the Bahamas with Hurricane Dorian. I am pleased that the UK has been able to support the Air Operations Unit and I look forward to seeing how much they achieve with this new aircraft.”