Guardian purchase an ‘expensive lesson’

  • A 2009 cartoon by the late Peter Woolcock on the MV Guardian (File photograph)

    A 2009 cartoon by the late Peter Woolcock on the MV Guardian (File photograph)

The white elephant flagship of the marine police fleet was a waste of money, the national security minister Wayne Caines told the House of Assembly yesterday.

Mr Caines said the MV Guardian, which cost $1.7 million 13 years ago, had spent most of its time tied up in dock.

He told the House: “The operational responsibility of the BPS is the remit of the Governor, however after careful analysis it is clear that the police hierarchy did not conduct the appropriate cost benefit and operational analysis prior to purchasing the Guardian 13 years ago.

“During the past 13 years the vessel has been deployed on a limited number of occasions. It was never fit for its intended purpose as a marine patrol vessel.

Mr Caines added the Guardian needed a crew of six and cost a $1,000 a day in fuel when deployed.

It also cost $24,000 a year in mooring charges.

Mr Caines said the Royal Bermuda Regiment were approached about taking over the boat, but the military declined because it could not afford the maintenance costs.

He added the patrol boat, which has a range of more than 200 miles, was not suitable for inshore work, which meant it would be of no use to the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s Boat Troop.

The minister said the Government put the boat up for sale last December rather than “continuing to pour good money into a bad investment“.

Mr Caines added the boat was assessed last year and it was found its market value had decreased to between $300,000 and $350,000.

But police were told it would cost up to $100,000 in repairs to make the boat seaworthy.

Mr Caines said, without the repairs, the resale value would likely not be much more than $50,000.

He said: “Following the tendering process two offers were received, one for $42,000 and the second for $69,000.

“The Accountant-General raised no issues with the fact that only two bids were received.

“As the accounting officer of the BPS, the decision on which offer to accept was made by the Commissioner of Police.

“Sale was agreed to the highest bid at $69,000 in line with the requirements for disposal of capital assets under financial instructions.”

Mr Caines added: “The sale of the Guardian was the only sound financial decision when considering the mooring cost, exorbitant fuel costs, ongoing maintenance and the additional $100,000 that would have been needed to make the boat seaworthy.

“This has been an expensive lesson leant by the Bermuda Police Service.”

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley yesterday declined to comment on Mr Caines’s criticism of the police.

He said: “The purchase of the Guardian 13 years ago was a decision taken by a previous BPS leadership team and its rationale is not something I have knowledge of nor can comment to.

“However, the sale of the Guardian through public tender was necessary as it no longer fitted the needs of the BPS and allows us to make best use of our financial resources elsewhere.”

The Royal Gazette revealed earlier this week that the vessel had been sold for a knock-down price of $69,000 to construction firm Crisson.

The Guardian was bought after a four-year search for a replacement for the former marine police flagship, the Blue Heron.

But questions over the new boat’s value for money arose just months later after reports of mechanical problems and its high cost of operation.

The boat was taken out of the water before the impact of Hurricane Bill in 2009.

Police said later the patrol boat was never intended for use in hurricanes.

To view the ministerial statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

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Published Jul 13, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 13, 2019 at 8:01 am)

Guardian purchase an ‘expensive lesson’

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