Upgrade facilities at port

As I live aboard my LOA 48’ yacht motor vessel and as a licensed, qualified mariner with ample local and international, high seas experience, the on board marine VHF radio is always on the ‘ON’ mode channel 16, whether at sea or at bay, to monitor any incoming airwaves emergency broadcast transmitted by high seas passing ships or George Town Port security that may aid me and my vessel in being proactive in securing or to take remedial action as required.

At 1815 hours on Monday, 21 May, I overheard an inbound high seas visitor’s vessel communication via Port Security VHF/SSB radio, requesting assistance to safely navigate into the George Town and in locating one of the available Port Security permanent moorings provided for inbound high seas vessels visiting and/or waiting port clearance by Immigration and Customs Authorities. It was also relayed in communication via VHF/SSB radio by the inbound vessel that the crew had no possession of the necessary navigational marine chart of the George Town harbour and therefore coordinates for safe entry into the harbour and to locate its permanent mooring would be required.

Needless to say, the Port security could not assist with this undertaking of coordinates on the position of the inbound vessel nor of its available permanent moorings, due to the lack of navigational (electronics) aid available at its Port Security booth.

At the point of ending communication, it was advised by Port Security to the inbound vessel’s crew to use their discretion (under the umbrella of darkness) via visual land (dock) cranes and lights as a point of reference to enter into the harbour, and to spot one of the available orange moorings and if unable to do so, then they could cast anchor within a sandy ocean floor location, without damaging any coral reefs at the surrounding areas.

On several occasions I myself have called into port as an inbound high seas vessel under the cover of darkness and adverse sea surface and ambient conditions, but had no difficulties entering the harbour or locating an available permanent mooring due to having an on board radar system to identify my objectives.

However, not so for many inbound (visitor) high seas vessels that are not equipped with such luxury and convenience of a radar device to assist them in their objectives within an unfamiliar harbour and its facilities, that I can only imagine the difficulties in manoeuvring and time consuming in reaching that objective of safe harbour entrance and permanent moorings location under somewhat unfavourable sea surface and ambient weather conditions at nighttime without even the additional on shore (Port Security) navigational aid assistance. God forbid, should there be an electrical black out in George Town area during a vessel’s port entry.

With an up-grade to Port Security facilities for the benefit of all concerned, to further assist inbound vessels and enhance security around the port area and its adjacent coast line, I may wish to suggest that perhaps the responsible authorities place a table marine chart of the George Town harbour and Grand Cayman, and a Laurence Broadband 4G radar monitor in the Port Security booth for the availability of its security officers during times when navigations are required into and within the George Town harbour (especially during cruise ship days, adverse weather and nighttime) and search/rescue operations.

I may further suggest upon providing and installing a radar system that with its open array 200’ to 36 nautical miles antennae scanner be mounted at the westward most point of the port, which would put it at the very end of the newly constructed Royal Watler cruise ship (in the area of the current light poles) pier, and at a height of approximately 30 feet, with a heading of North-up and due west for proper scanning and function to the S, SW, W, NW and North, at a distance of 200’-36nm for those vessels in port and inbound or vessels in distress within the distance out at sea.

Capt. O. Diaz