WICO Security Director Suggests New Fire-Fighting Boat

Multiple cruise ships dock at WICO and stay until late evening before departing the island of St. Thomas. Cruise line companies set security requirements for ports their ships visit, including a fire-fighting boat. (Source photo)
Multiple cruise ships dock at WICO and stay until late evening before departing the island of St. Thomas. Cruise line companies set security requirements for ports their ships visit, including a fire-fighting boat. (Source photo)

Roy Moorehead, who as director of security for the West Indian Co., Ltd., has been securing WICO’s dock and premises for six years, requested the agency pursue purchasing a “super boat” capable of handling marine and vessel fires, which he said would promote safety and ultimately benefit the entire territory.

Moorehead discussed the proposal and the ongoing installation of security cameras on WICO property at Monday’s meeting of the WICO board of directors. He suggested addition of a fire-fighting boat could be done in conjunction with V.I. Fire Services.

The cruise lines set security requirements they expect WICO to meet for their ships to dock at WICO’s facilities, and those include a security boat. Moorehead said that WICO has an operational boat, but it is old, purchased in 2004, and requires significant restoration.

Moorehead said it would cost almost $200,000 to fix the old boat, which requires engine repairs and new fuel tanks. Or the board could take it as an opportunity to purchase a whole new boat that could be outfitted for not only securing the dock, but with a few upgrades could also be utilized by Fire Services when necessary. Moorehead added that he planned to apply for grants to finance the efforts.

Moorehead did not have an estimated cost for a new boat.

“I have done some research on getting a new one and I am awaiting the estimates for the new vessel,” he told the board. “In doing so I spoke with the fire director and some of the local law enforcement first responders and they indicated that we have no fire response vessel in the territory. We have no vessel that can respond to maritime fires … One of the things I would like the board to consider is that if we go down the route of getting a new vessel I would like it to have a fire pump.”

Moorehead said WICO captains would be responsible for operating the vessel but could aid Fire Services by allowing them to be on the back of the boat utilizing the fire pump.

His request met with some criticism but was supported by Director of Marine and Cruise Operations Mark Sabino and Chairman Joseph Boschulte.

“This has been spoken about since the time I came back home in ’81 and the fire department attempted to have a fireboat. But what this territory needs is a multifunctional vessel, a large vessel 65 to 80 feet, that can respond to a crash off the runway. One that can respond to a ship fire, that can respond to emergency rescue and so on,” Sabino said.

He added that he was in full support of a vessel that could support divers, law enforcement, and at sea rescues. Sabino said he would like to see WICO become a partner with other government entities and bring this to fruition.

But several members questioned whether the territory’s necessity of a boat capable of handling fires and sea rescues should fall on the shoulders of WICO and, more importantly, on WICO’s dime.

Boschulte said there will be further discussion of the topic during WICO’s budget meeting, which is scheduled to be held next month. The timing is good, he said, because “They have the budget.”

“One of the things we need to be careful about is refurbishing capital assets that have reached their usefulness, That’s a 2004 boat and we are going into 2020. You don’t have to look hard in the community for big, recycled assets that we keep trying to fix, that are not very efficient. So we need to make a necessary investment and if we believe this is one of them then we need to move forward,” Boschulte said.

Moorehead also told the board about installation of security cameras in the parking lot and along the dock, a project that includes installation of cameras on WICO premises and for the Government Employee Retirement System, which purchased the Havensight Shopping Mall and the adjoining dock. WICO manages the shopping mall.

The camera installation on WICO property, which runs along the dock, is 98 percent complete and operational, Moorehead said. Placing cameras in the Havensight Shopping Mall will be carried out in three phases and, once finished, will utilize almost 130 cameras.

“Sector one, two and three. We have just started with sector one, which is the Gourmet Gallery Parking Lot. The goal is to install cameras throughout the parking lot. … When we’re installing cameras we are looking at two things. Monitoring people as they walk on the sidewalks to make sure we have eyes on everybody who goes in and comes out of businesses in the event there is some sort of attempt in the business. And in the parking lots to cover the parking area just in case somebody claims their vehicle was damaged on the property,” Moorehead said.