British Royal Navy helicopters from the RFA Argus ship will temporarily replace Cayman’s two police helicopters next month.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Air Operations Unit has two helicopters, but one was in the US receiving an upgrade of specialist equipment when the COVID-19 crisis hit, leading to the maintenance base being closed. The second helicopter will be off island for two weeks in June for its annual maintenance checks.
According to a government press release, the Governor’s Office confirmed that the UK military’s Security Assistance Team in Cayman helped obtain agreement for RFA Argus to provide air cover with their helicopters next month.
The release stated, “The Air Operations Unit has been operating the remaining aircraft and flying hours far in excess of normal operations in support of RCIPS COVID-19 related work, in particular assistance with curfew enforcement and border protection. The aircraft is now required to be off-island for a period of two weeks, for routine annual maintenance checks given the numbers of hours flown. The SAT team has arranged for the helicopters from RFA Argus to provide cover while this work is carried out.”
The Royal Navy helicopters will be operating from RFA Argus, and will be working with the RCIPS to provide border protection, anti-drug and weapons operations and search rescue cover, officials said.
Governor Martyn Roper said, “The arrangement for the Royal Navy to provide air cover to us, during the RCIPS helicopter’s maintenance run to the USA, is particularly welcome and a good example of the work that has been done. This assistance will ensure that our Islands and borders remain safe at a time of great uncertainty.
“The RCIPS Air Operations Unit have done a fantastic job since the start of this crisis, and will continue to work closely with the Navy during this deployment. They are old friends and have deployed together to the Bahamas in support of operations following Hurricane Dorian last year.”
Earlier this month, RFA Argus visited the Cayman Islands and its helicopters carried out exercises with the RCIPS Air Operations Unit.