RBDF to determine this week if search efforts continue

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Tellis Bethel said last night that he and senior commanders of the organization will meet this week to determine the way forward with the search and recovery effort for a small plane that plunged in waters off western New Providence on Nov. 8.

“We’ll meet this week to determine that; where we go from here,” Bethel told Eyewitness News.

That meeting will take place on Wednesday or Thursday, Bethel advised.

When asked whether the search is likely to be called off this week, Bethel said, “I’d rather wait until I speak with the rest of our team.”

Byron Ferguson, 34, was en route from Florida in a six-seater Piper Aztec when his door flew open, according to authorities.

The United States-registered aircraft went down two nautical miles from the airfield at Lynden Pindling International Airport.

Ferguson was expected to join his family to travel to South Africa in celebration of his father’s birthday.

Asked about search efforts over the weekend, Bethel indicated that the RBDF’s patrol crafts continue to search for anything that will help to bring closure to the matter.

However, he said there has been no new developments to date.

Last Monday, RBDF Commander Shone Pinder said while the search and recovery effort was ongoing, it was not being conducted at the same “pace that existed a few days ago”.

“…What we have done is we have pretty much allowed for our surface craft that are patrolling the area to maintain a lookout for anything that may be telltale signs that [could] assist the Air Accident Investigation [Department] as it relates to any debris or any other significant finds,” Pinder told Eyewitness News.

The RBDF was roundly criticized over its handling over the search in the days following the incident.

Attorney General Carl Bethel also slammed the RBDF in the Senate, saying it was mind-boggling if authorities sighted a part of the aircraft on the night of the crash and suspended search efforts until the next morning.

After midnight, authorities said the search had suspended.

More than a week later, however, the Defence Force said its vessels left the area to refuel and get additional equipment, but the search did not suspend.

Authorities also reported on the night of the crash that a part of the aircraft was spotted.

Divers, however, were not sent into the water until the morning of November 9.

When divers returned to the same coordinates, the part of the aircraft could not be located.

Volunteers and civilian divers located wreckage believed to be from the plane in waters near the crash site on November 15 — a week later.

The RBDF later revealed it had also found debris, but the discovery was not reported at the time.

The commodore has insisted his organization made every effort to find the pilot and recover the plane.

However, he noted that communication could have been better.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has promised a full review of the protocols, procedures and agencies involved in the crash search and recovery efforts.

2 comments

The RBDF knows the layout of the ocean in that area. At least, they should know. The plane is now in deep water that can be up to thousands of feet deep. The RBDF does not have the capacity to explore the ocean at those depths. The question is do you acknowledge your limitations and bring in the assistance that is capable of doing what needs to be done?
They did not do due diligence on the night of the crash. Let’s see if they will do due diligence now or just call off the search AGAIN.

But I can tell you for sure, sailing around using the Bahamian people’s boats is an exercise in futility.

BRING IN THE PEOPLE WHO CAN EXPLORE THE DEEP OCEAN IF THE RBDF CAN’T. This should have happened already.

#bahamianlivesmatter

I believe in sensible resolution of issues.
There is nothing wrong with not being able to perform a certain task. No man is an island. Just acknowledge your limitations and work towards the appropriate solution.

This is the approximate location of the plane crash: https://tinyurl.com/y9dsotg4.

In that area is a shelf that breaks into deep ocean presumed to be upto thousands of feet in depth.
http://www.eschooltoday.com/landforms/what-is-a-continental-shelf-landform.html.

Locally, including the RBDF divers, there is no capacity to explore the ocean at those depths.
The RBDF has no unmanned devices with capacity to explore to those depths.
The limit for recreational scuba divers is around 130 feet. The RBDF divers certainly cannot go beyond 200 feet.

This is no condemnation on the RBDF divers who dive to the maximum level of their equipment and training quite proficiently. If you were trained to dive to 200 feet, and you have equipment to dive to 200 feet, and you do that well, you are still a professional and competent diver.

However, now you are faced with a situation beyond which you have the capacity to handle.
When the plane was in shallow waters, no divers were sent in.
Now the tide took the plane to deep waters beyond the capacity of the divers.

A private volunteer diver with rebreather equipment and capacity to go beyond 400 feet was flown in and dove in the area over a two day period and found evidence to further support the suggestion that the plane was taken over the shelf.

What are you doing to address this problem?
Saying that you are still searching is very generic. Notice the use of the term “surface assets” all throughout that press conference.

Doing something is not equal to doing something meaningful.

This is not the best way to spend Bahamian taxpayers money. Acknowledge your limitations and use our resources sensibly. Bring in someone with the capacity to do what needs to be done.

Just flying or sailing around to say that you are doing something, you know and I know is maybe pointless at this point.

Once again … leadership and decision making.

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