A new police helicopter will arrive in the Cayman Islands within days, Premier Alden McLaughlin and Governor Martyn Roper announced Wednesday.
The arrival of the new $11 million helicopter was fast-tracked because the existing police helicopter is out of action after sustaining damage in a forced landing last month.
Ultimately, the second helicopter, an Airbus H145, will be used alongside the existing aircraft to boost Cayman’s search-and-rescue capability and support law enforcement and border protection operations. The aircraft will also be used to respond to disasters and other emergency situations in the other U.K. Caribbean Overseas Territories.
The Governor’s Office announced plans in early December last year to purchase the new helicopter, stating at the time that it was hoped the helicopter could be brought into operational use in mid to late 2019.
According to a memorandum of understanding signed in London by Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for the Overseas Territories, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and Premier McLaughlin, the U.K. will contribute 25 percent of the purchase price and running costs of the helicopter from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, while Cayman picks up the remaining 75 percent.
Governor Roper said in a statement released Wednesday, “We are grateful to the Air Operations Unit and Airbus Helicopters for their work to ensure that the new helicopter can be deployed so quickly.
“This will help to ensure the safety and security of the territory while the existing helicopter is out of action, and is a significant step-up in our law enforcement capability.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the new helicopter would also be an invaluable tool to help support the new Coast Guard agency.
“I appreciate the expediency of the arrival of the new helicopter to help pick up the work of the damaged aircraft to aid in our continued efforts of providing support for security, law enforcement and disaster response for the Cayman Islands and our Caribbean Overseas Territories,” he added.