Representatives from a wide cross-section of agencies gathered at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort on Tuesday, 24 April to test the ability of the Cayman Islands to respond to a major cruise ship incident.
As part of the exercise, those on hand were tasked with using the ballroom of the hotel as a makeshift control room, which served as the nucleus of all relief efforts for the exercise. Officials from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also participated in the demo with a view of better gauging how to coordinate with the British government in the event of a cruise ship disaster in the Cayman Islands, one of the UK’s overseas territories in the Caribbean.
Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor offered some remarks at the beginning of the morning session. In addition to pointing out the importance of the exercise, considering people often may have regard cruise ships as being able to manage themselves, Governor Taylor said some obvious improvements could be made, including that an invite should have been extended to Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush to attend the exercise.
“As part of such an exercise we are looking for ways to improve and it seems as though it would have been good to have the premier here,” Mr. Taylor said. Disaster preparedness is the Governor’s responsibility, while the Cayman Islands government is charged with facilitating efforts.
Frank Savage, the disaster management adviser of the FCO, had high praise for the Cayman Islands’ past response efforts, citing the disaster caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 and the subsequent response as a marvel of resilience on the part of the Western Caribbean island territory.
“What we do here has been copied around the region. It is an absolutely professional set up,” he said.