Repair bill: $590,000
Three police marine unit patrol boats were effectively taken out of service for more than two and a half years and another craft was decommissioned after the government spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to repair it, records obtained by the Cayman Compass have revealed.
The details of the marine unit patrol craft idle time and repair costs, which approached $600,000 between January 2011 and February 2014, were released to the Compass last week about 19 months after the newspaper filed a formal open records request for the information.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service initially said the records sought had been corrupted in numerous hard drive crashes at the Citrus Grove building where they were stored. The government was forced to restore more than 1 terabyte of data from the drives in order to recover the information.
The records request sought to determine which Joint Marine Unit patrol craft had been damaged between Jan. 1, 2011 and the date of the Freedom of Information request, Feb. 19, 2014, what was paid to repair those damages and how long the boats were out of service while repairs were made.
The RCIPS response indicated the vessels Tornado, Cayman Defender, Cayman Guardian and Cayman Protector all required repairs for which they were sidelined at various times during the period.
Protector, once the crown jewel of the RCIPS patrol fleet, was taken out of service in 2011 and had about $90,000 worth of repairs made to it. However, a decision was then taken in 2012 to decommission the vessel, after it was determined more extensive repairs would be needed on the aging craft.
“It was a situation where [the government] may have to spend more on it than the remaining life-span of the vessel is worth,” Marine Unit Inspector Ian Yearwood said.
Protector was never replaced in the marine unit fleet, which expanded significantly between 2008-2009.
Tornado was out of service for a year between 2013 and 2014, records show. More than $110,000 was spent during the period on repairs. Cayman Defender was out between Feb. 11, 2012 and August 2013, a period of about 18 months. Its repairs during the period also cost about $110,000.
Cayman Guardian was out for one month in 2011 and cost about $138,000 to fix.
Additional repairs were made to two other patrol craft, Niven D and Typhoon, during the same period. That work cost more than $140,000, but neither boat had to be taken out of service, police said. Repairs totaling less than $3,000 were made to several Wave Runners used by the marine unit.
The difficulties regarding the response to the Compass Freedom of Information request became a news story on its own last year.
RCIPS representatives, responding to the open records request several months late, revealed the hard drive crashes had occurred when information related to the request about Marine Unit patrol boats could not be located.
The original request for information sought: “All of the watercraft used as part of the Joint Marine Unit’s operations by name of the boat. How many times each of those watercraft have a) broken down, have been damaged or were otherwise found to be deficient and have required repairs or replacement; b) the period of time they were out of service; c) the cost of making the repairs; d) when they were returned to service; e) if they were not returned to service, what happened to the watercraft.”
The eventual response by the police did not provide information regarding how many times the various watercraft had broken down during the relevant period.
Some of the repair cost information has been provided as part of the request last year, but police said data related to the time the vessels were out of service was on the government hard drives that had crashed several times. The last recorded hard drive crash at the Citrus Grove building occurred in March 2014.
Since November 2014, the Information Commissioner’s Office has been attempting to follow up with the RCIPS to retrieve the relevant files. The RCIPS initially blamed the government Computer Services Department over the issue and then stopped responding to the commissioner’s office requests altogether.
Over a period of months, the Computer Services Department worked to restore the corrupted data, and by August 2014 reported that all but 10.6 megabytes had been retrieved. The Compass then renewed its open records request for the Marine Unit information. The open records request for the Marine Unit information was partially answered on Thursday of last week.