Penguin News Update
Headlines: Lord Triesman's seasonal greetings; Mine feasibility study: '100% clearance is possible'; Chief of Police officially resigns; Festive cruise visits; Men lost after ship links.
Lord Triesman's seasonal greetingsPARLIAMENTARY Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Triesman, has sent a Christmas message to Falkland Islanders. Lord Triesman was due to visit the Islands last week but his visit was cancelled at the eleventh hour due to adverse weather conditions at Mount Pleasant. He had been looking forward to his first visit to the Falklands, in his message he wished Islanders well for the year ahead, one which will see increased public and media interest in the Falkland Islands. "I know that this will be an important opportunity for you to demonstrate the successful development of the Islands over the last quarter of a century and I had very much been looking forward to appreciating this first hand." Lord Triesman said he was pleased to be able to speak at the Falklands Forum in London in April next year, "...an event which will support your continuing development." He added a personal note: "May I take this opportunity to wish all on the Falklands a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year." Mine feasibility study: '100% clearance is possible'A TEAM of experts who are in the Falklands to asses the technical and environmental issues surrounding the removing landmines, believe they can totally clear the Islands. In a public presentation given on Wednesday evening, the team from Cranfield University said that while some of the challenges in the Falklands are the worst they have ever seen, they were optimistic about clearance. Landmine consultant Paddy Blagden said humanitarian clearance standards are higher than military standards: they work "slowly and carefully" he said, "and we obey a very precise set of rules," allowing fields to be cleared completely. In their three weeks in the Islands, the team have visited 103 minefields. When asked if he would take his children into a cleared area, Mr Blagden's response was a resounding "yes", adding that, as an evaluator, he spends a lot of time in minefields while clearance work goes on. However, it's not all plain sailing. Mr Blagden said some areas in the Falklands look "fairly tricky", others look "difficult" and others still "are frightful". He said the fields at Yorke Bay were an example of the final category. He outlined the methods that might be used for clearance which include ground penetration radar, metal detectors, dogs trained in detection, and removal using heavy machinery. A member of the public asked whether there would be problems with movement of mines buried in peat. Soils consultant Rodney Burton said tests were being carried out to look at whether mines do actually move in peat; the fact that peat can be easily damaged is also being addressed, he said, and trials on how to take remedial action are being conducted. Mr Blagden also assured that environmental agencies would be involved in any clearance. As to how mines react in sand, Mr Blagden said that if they are not heavy they can move in sea sand with the tide. However, he added that the Falklands have a low tidal reach without strong currents so they may not have moved much. Mr Blagden was clear that the team were not in the Falklands to discuss strategic policy and whether clearance will happen. However a small number of people at the meeting expressed the view that the minefields should be left alone. Chief of Police officially resignsSUPERINTENDENT Dave Morris has tendered his resignation as Chief Police Officer. This now clears the way for the process to recruit a successor to begin. Applications will be invited locally and in the UK early in the New Year. On November 9, Mr Morris was convicted of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. Regrettably, he was taken ill later that day and has since been in hospital. Accordingly, sentence has not been delivered and Mr Morris has remained suspended from duty, without pay. Penguin News asked Chief Executive Chris Simpkins why Mr Morris was able to resign after being found guilty of a crime and was not simply dismissed from office. He replied, "I can well understand the confusion. There is, as you would expect, the ability to dismiss in the event of a criminal conviction within the terms of the Management Code. However, whilst the procedure to be followed is quite straightforward, and therefore not as complicated as for a disciplinary offence under the Code, it nevertheless requires the individual to be able to understand and participate in the process." Given Mr Morris's current incapacity, Mr Simpkins said, the government sought medical opinion as to his fitness to undergo the procedure. "We were clearly advised that he was, and is not, fit to participate in the process. We were therefore awaiting medical clearance before commencing the procedure when the resignation was received." He added, "I would emphasise, lest anyone imagines otherwise, that no pressure whatsoever has been applied to secure a resignation." Festive cruise visitsTHE Christmas period will be a busy one for cruise ship visits, both in Stanley and Camp. Le Diamant is in Stanley today, carrying 198 passengers, and Explorer II will be alongside FIPASS tomorrow with 199 passengers. Marco Polo (900 passengers) is due to call in at West Point Island on Saturday, before coming in to Stanley, joining the Insignia (824), which will also be in Stanley on Sunday. The Norwegian Crown will be in Stanley on Boxing Day, carrying 1050 passengers, and the Vistamar (280) will be alongside FIPASS on December 28. The Aleksey Maryshev (50) will be calling at New Island and Carcass Island on December 29, and then come in to Stanley the following day, joining the Astor, carrying 650 passengers. The Ushuaia (80) will call at New Island on New Year's Eve, before heading to Saunders Island and Carcass Island on New Year's Day, and Steeple Jason on January 2. Also on January 2, the Molchanov, carrying 80 passengers, will visit New Island and West Point, before heading to Stanley the next day. Lastly, the Clipper Adventurer (122) will be calling at George and Barren Islands, and Bleaker Island on January 4. Men lost after ship linksAT least four crew are believed to have died in the sinking of a Korean trawler in the South Atlantic. The In Sung 207, which has formerly fished for skate in the Falklands, is believed to have sunk 366 miles north of Cape Dolphin, 166 miles from the Falklands Outer Conservation Zone. John Pollard from the In Sung Corporation's Falklands agents, Sulivan Shipping, said another ship from the fleet, the In Sung 2 transhipped in the Islands yesterday: "They were keen to get the job done as they wanted to join in the search." Roy Summers from the Fisheries Department said no vessels had been specifically dispatched from here to the scene: "We know there are at least 33 other ships in the area and it would take at least a day for ships to get there from here." MP/PN