The following was forwarded to The Pilot to be included in the Letters to the Editor:
This is a presentation I made in Gander on January 31, 2011.
It’s ironic that this was the same day that my friend Capt. Larry Parsons lost his life while waiting for D.N.D. rescue helicopter out of Gander in 2008, exactly three years ago.
To: House of Commons, Standing Committee on National Defense
Study: Search and rescue response times
January 31, 2011, Gander, NL
My name is Wilfred Bartlett
I am a retired fishing captain
I live on an Island surrounded by water
I have been a member of Canadian Marine Rescue Auxiliary from the time it started in Newfoundland & Labrador.
I have been lucky enough to never have to use the service of Search & Rescue, except a couple times stuck in ice and then were not in any immediate danger.
But I have been involved in rescue operations of very dangerous situation both for the people to be rescued and for myself and crew.
The main one is Sept 4, 1980, off the Coast of Labrador when a Portuguese ship with 64 people went ashore in a storm in Black Tickle, Labrador, happy to report no loss of life.
I live on the North East Coast of Newfoundland, which is prone to storms and a lot of lost lives of people who make their living from the Ocean or just use it for recreational purposes or travel.
We have a search and rescue service operating out of Gander by the Dept of National Defense, while the location of Gander is the ideal place for this service and should never be moved; my complaint with this service is that it is being operated at what we refer to as bankers hours and therefore not providing a very good service.
I did not criticize this service until I lost a friend of mine, Capt Larry Parsons on the Checkmate III. I found out that it took 50 minutes for the helicopter to get in the air and these 2 crew members appeared to be alive when it arrived on scene, that was really a shocker, 50 minutes in the North Atlantic Ocean in November is a lifetime, in fact a minute could be a lifetime.
I am using the following three incidents as an example of what I am talking about
Sept 19, 2004: Ryan’s Commander was lost at sea, 2 people died. At 18:42, Dept National Defense Cormorant helicopter was tasked and left Gander at 19:42, 60 minutes later.
Sept 12, 2005: Melina & Keith II, lost at sea, 4 people died. Dept National Defense helicopter at Gander tasked at 16:50, left Gander at 18:10, 80 minutes after call came in.
Jan 31, 2008: Check-Mate III, lost at sea on board my good friend, Larry Parsons and his friend Christopher Oram lost their lives. Dept National Defense helicopter at Gander tasked at 21:50, left Gander at 22:40, 50 minutes later, both were reported in water and responsive and helicopter made no effort to retrieve.