Headlines: St Brandan loses contract Tamar steps in to fill gap; Audit puts hospital on the sick list; Kayaker makes epic journey.
St Brandan loses contract Tamar steps in to fill gapTHE MV Saint Brandanis to leave the Falkands after failing to secure the Ministry of Defence contract it has held for some 26 years. The ship's owner, J&A Gardner, is reported by shipping experts to face an uncertain future after its only ship lost the charter to supply British forces around the Islands. MV St Brandanis due to leave for the UK on April 1, with her crew of eight, some of whom have worked in and around the Islands for the last 26 years. St BrandanSkipper Roddy MacLean and Chief Engineer Jimmy MacIntyre, arrived in the Falklands in early 1983. Capt MacLean said: "It's very sad. I'm not a local, but I've been made to feel like one, like part of the community. I'll be leaving my home from home." Able Seaman Sandy Thomas has spent the last year with the Brandanand Captain MacLean. He said: "He's a good skipper of the old school who is going to really miss these Islands and will be missed by the Islanders." Tamar to fill the gapAn MoD spokesman confirmed that the successful bidder for the contract to provide a chartered shipping service was Van Wijngarden Marine Services BV, which currently operates the tug Giessenstroom in the Falklands. The contract will run for a 10- year period starting on April 1, 2009 and will operate two Shoalbuster tugs, plus a large pontoon barge providing a ro-ro facility and cranage. The MoD spokesman said the contracted new-build vessels would arrive in the Islands in January 2010 and confirmed that the Dutch company would charter MV Tamarto provide an interim service. Tim Cotter of the Development Corporation, who is managing the sale of the FIG-owned Tamarto Scottish company Argll Coastal Services (ACS), said the final payment was being processed and the deal was expected to be completed today (Friday). The former coastal shipping vessel has been alongside the East Jetty since July last year when the sale was initiated and the ferry Concordia Bayarrived in the Islands. Captain Heather Chaplain of ACS said that as no contracts had yet been signed by any parties for the MoD contract, she could not comment in detail on Tamar'snew role. However, she confirmed that Tamar would be, "working locally for a couple of months," and that if a full ship pay load for St Helena could be sourced then that voyage would still take place as planned. Audit puts hospital on the sick listTHE health department has been operating its £6.8 million budget with 'limited' financial controls, according to the Chief Internal Auditor, Rob Granger. In a report due to go to SFC yesterday, the department received the second-lowest possible rating for its financial controls. The '4' grading assigned in the health and social services internal audit means that, "there is a quantifiable risk that service objectives will not be achieved and/or a serious loss (financial or otherwise) will be suffered by the Falkland Islands Government". A '4' grade is given where the control system is missing key elements, or where the auditor is, "unable to find any firm evidence that a system is operating as expected." Exact details of the shortcomings Mr Granger uncovered have not yet been made public, but senior government officials are considering whether to release the internal audit following a request from Penguin Newsunder the code of practice on freedom of information. Mr Granger's report made 19 separate recommendations to the health and social services department, five of which were listed as high priorities. The report referred to 2007/08 - the most recent year for which a review had been carried out. Councillor Janet Robertson, who holds the health portfolio said that, providing there was no information such as personal details contained in the audit report, she did not see why it could not be made public. She added: "The role of internal audit is to choose departments and highlight areas of weakness so that we can improve them." The mid-year update on the auditor's activities also granted a '4' for controls on government's staff travel and subsistence, with 13 recommendations made. This relates to FIG officers rather than councillors. Kayaker makes epic journeyA LONE kayaker, Marcus Demuth (39) has completed a clockwise circumnavigation of the Falklands in just 21 days. A tired but elated Mr Demuth paddled into Stanley Harbour on Monday morning, having beaten the elements that on occasion threatened his success. Mr Demuth said that acting on advice from Falklands kayaker Leiv Poncet, he had paddled every available moment, taking to the water in the middle of the night when conditions were suitable. Mr Poncet is the only other person to have achieved this feat, in 2001. The New York-based kayaker who has previously circumnavigated Ireland and has plans to paddle around Iceland, said stopping at the settlements was a real morale booster. Although Mr Demuth said his original plan was to travel around all 776 islands, the paddling was just too hard into the wind. He admitted he became totally worn out and couldn't keep up. "The wind was brutal," he said, adding that Ireland had been easy in comparison. A gale in King George Bay brought 65 mph winds, and about ten days into the expedition a 15- foot wave capsized Mr Demuth and held him in its grip, preventing him from rolling upright. He exited the kayak, remaining attached to it by a rope, but all his loose-packed kit was lost, including his seat. He said: "I was lucky to be able to get back in with such a high swell and rode with the wind to Hammock Island where I was a bit like a castaway: I'd lost my water and there was no water on the island.". Continued on page 2