H.E. The Governor Elizabeth Carriere said the docking of the Jaden Sun at Port Plymouth earlier this month was a one-off.
Speaking to the media at her recent press conference, she the weather conditions on March 8 “at time when people were starting to arrive to celebrate St Patrick’s Week” put an enormous strain on all those involved in getting people to and from the island, including the ferry, the airlines and the Access Division.
According to the Access Division, 77 passengers disembarked the M V Jaden Sun and were boarded on buses to the Salem Police Station, where they were processed by Immigration and Customs.
“I want to start by thanking all concerned for their hard work to ensure that, as far as possible, access routes were kept open at the busiest time of the year for Montserrat and, in particular, those who supported the operation on 8 March. But the safety of the passengers, crew, the vessel and those supporting the operation is always paramount and has to come before any economic considerations. That is why the decision to allow the ferry to dock in Plymouth that day was ultimately mine on safety grounds and taken only after a meeting of all the agencies early that morning. I would not have agreed to it had I not received assurances that it could be carried out efficiently, quickly and safely. I want to stress that this was an exceptional operation solely to disembark passengers in daylight.
“Docking in Plymouth is not and, at least for the foreseeable future, will not be a routine “business as usual” issue. I did not agree to any night-time operations for obvious reasons and I did not, on this occasion, think it wise to allow passengers to embark in Plymouth. It is clear from the de-brief meeting that I chaired after the operation that it involved considerable additional resources well beyond those normally needed when the ferry docks in Little Bay. This took valuable assets, people, vehicles and other equipment, away from routine but necessary duties for most of the day,” Governor Carriere stated.
Members of NDPRAC are meeting this week and will consider lessons identified and to be applied in the planning and execution of any future (and, hopefully, rare) similar operations.
“I want to emphasise two things. Firstly, under normal circumstances and when the ferry is docking in Little Bay, I do not get involved in its operations. Those are matters for the Government of Montserrat. However, and secondly, as soon as safety and security considerations become overriding concerns for its operation, as was the case in Plymouth, the final decision on allowing those operations to happen ultimately rests with me, having considered the advice of all the relevant agencies,” she concluded.