Thursday, 30 August 2012

Diver Magazine Wreck Story Sidebar #3 Russian Destroyer


 
Cayman Brac  “The Russian Destroyer”

Cayman Brac - Reef Divers' crew prepare for a morning dive on the Russian Destroyer
Wrecked  - Diver Magazine Feature by Stephen Weir September 2012. Sidebar 3


The Russian destroyer was actually a Russian Patrol Frigate based in Cuba. It was Patrol Vessel 356 until just before her sinking when she was named the Dive Captain Keith Tibbetts

Length 330’
Width 42’
Commissioned in 1984
Decommissioned in 1992
Sunk in 1996
Last passenger on ship – Jean Michelle Cousteau
Armament – Two 5” deck gun.

Reef Divers, Cayman Brac visit the Destroyer almost daily, and occasionally will dive her at night.  The Cayman Aggressor live-aboard usually dives her weekly.  When conditions are right, she can be dove from shore.

Reef Divers at Brac Reef Beach Resort
Cayman Brac
1-800-594-0843
info@866thebrac.com

Full Story: http://stephenweirarticles.blogspot.ca/2012/08/cover-story-diver-magazine-september.html 
YouTube Video of a dive on the Russian Destroyer by Stephen Weir http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=488399485515759859#editor/target=post;postID=7762470828866497744

Diver Magazine Wreck Story Sidebar #2 Soto Trader

Soto Wreck - Little Cayman - Peter Brink
 Cayman Wreck Story - Diver Magazine September 2012


Little Cayman - The Wreck of the Soto Trader

MV Soto Trader
Commissioned: 1940s.
Decommissioned: 1975
Date lost04/04/1975 cause lostfire
Dimensions: 120 Ft Length - 30 Ft Beam
Cargo at time of sinking: Beer. Construction equipment. Vehicle.
Note: no beer has been found on the wreck this century. (I’ve looked)
 
Reef Divers Little Cayman
Conch Club Condos and Conch Club Divers
Phone: (345) 948 1026  (561) 283-1715
P.O. Box 58, Little Cayman. KY3-2501, Cayman Islands
Conch Club Divers in Little Cayman
Phone (345) 948-1026  (832) 460-9127
E-mail ccdivers@candw.ky

Little Cayman Beach Resort and Reef Divers
Phone: (345) 948-0124

The Southern Cross Club
Little Cayman
Tel: 345-948-1099

Full Story: http://stephenweirarticles.blogspot.ca/2012/08/cover-story-diver-magazine-september.html 

Diver Magazine Wreck Story Sidebar #1 Kittiwake



Cayman sinking story by Stephen Weir


Tale of the tape
The World’s newest diveable artificial reef – this month.

The Kittiwake is for divers and snorkellers
Ex-USS Kittiwake ASR 13 - Chanticleer Class Submarine Rescue Ship ASR
Built by: Savannah Machinery and Foundry Co of Savannah, Georgia, USA
Keel Laid: 5th January 1945
Launched: 10th July 1945
Commissioned: 16th July 1945
Decommissioned: 30th September 1994
Displacement: 2290 TONS
Dimensions: 251 ft Length - 42 Ft Beam - 15 ft Draft
Machinery: Diesel Electric Propulsion - 1 Shaft - 3000 BHP for 15 Kts
Complement: 85 Officers and Sailors
 
The Kittiwake shipwreck is in a private park and attraction that is managed by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. All divers to the Kittiwake shipwreck are required to pay an entry fee (which added to your dive shop charges). - Scuba Divers = $10 Cdn/US

Divetech @candw.ky
571 NW Point Road, West Bay
Grand Cayman, CAYMAN ISLANDS
345) 946-5658
345) 946-5659 fax
There are over a dozen other operators who will take divers and snorkelers to the Kittiwake. For a full list visit:






Factoid information  and Lawson Wood photograph courtesy of the Cayman Island Tourism
Full Story: http://stephenweirarticles.blogspot.ca/2012/08/cover-story-diver-magazine-september.html 

YouTube Snorkelling trip on the wreck with Stephen Weir 
http://stephenweirarticles.blogspot.ca/2012/08/you-tube-snorkelling-on-kittiwake.html 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

COVER STORY DIVER MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2012 - CAYMAN WRECKS


 

Three Artificial Reefs. Three Days of Diving. Three Cayman Islands

September Issue. Diver Magazine. www.divermag.com
 


By Stephen Weir

The buzz is back. Cayman Islands, best known for their reef walls, gin clear water and a high standard of dive services, is attracting wreck divers these days because of their growing inventory of artificial reefs.
Have just three  dive days and want to see the underside of all three Cayman Islands?  There are underwater world-class military shipwrecks  (well, two and a worthy commercial wreck) that have been sunk close to shore to allow for diving almost any day (or night) of the year on Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
A year and a half ago the Cayman Dive Operators Association sank the USS Kittiwake on the North End of Grand Cayman Island’s 7-Mile Beach.  Ever since, a Canadian run dive shop has been modifying the remains of the retired US Navy submarine tender, to make it both diver and snorkel friendly.  It is now the hottest wreck dive in the Caribbean.
Off the north shore of Cayman Brac, in 1996, while film cameras whirled, Diver Magazine columnist Jean Michel Cousteau rode a decommissioned Cuban/Russian warship 30 metres down to sandy bottom close to shore. One of the world’s first artificial reefs for divers, the well publicized sinking made a worldwide statement about turning weapons of mass-destruction into eco-friendly tourist attractions!
The wreck is the only diveable Russian built warship in the Western Hemisphere.   Prior to sinking, the 285 ft long ship (known as number 356) was named the Captain Keith Tibbetts after a local dive operator and businessman.  The name hasn’t stuck too well, more often than not she is called the Russian destroyer even though she is a much smaller Koni II class anti-submarine frigate.
Now no shipwreck will ever take away from the breath taking beauty of the wall that lines the south side of the Cayman Trench off Little Cayman, but, if you have a hankering for a wreck dive on the way back to your hotel – the 120 ft long steel hulled Soto Trader never fails to deliver! 
 
GRAND CAYMAN – THE KITTIWAKE

“It was a lot of work. Even now, 18 months later, I shake my head and can’t believe how all consuming the experience was,” explained Nancy Easterbrook the Canadian owner of Grand Cayman’s full service Dive Tech.  As head of the Cayman Islands Watersports Association she spearheaded the sinking of the 192 ft long Kittiwake. “ It hasn’t shifted. It is right where we sank her. People like it; they really like diving the Kittiwake.  So much so, we are doing the unthinkable … thinking about getting another shipwreck!”

After seven years of planning, the retired USS Kittiwake was scuttled a few days into 2011 after arriving at Grand Cayman Island on Christmas Day. The Submarine Rescue vessel (ASR-13) was sunk upright in the sand just north of the famous Seven Mile Beach.
The ship was put down to take pressure off the reefs of one of the world’s most popular island dive destinations. Because she lies within a private underwater park, there is a fee to dive or snorkel on her – the $8 fee is used to maintain the wreck and the park. The ship (donated by the US Navy) has begun to attract divers and snorkelers in very large numbers – so much so that the 14 dive and snorkel operators that visit the wreck almost daily, ask that reservations be made to guarantee a trip to the wreck.
Diver magazine dove with Dive Tech.  Dive Tech offers all levels of diving – from children’s programmes to free diving to rebreathers and, as the name says, Deep Wreck Technical Diving.   The outfit is headquartered at Cobalt Coast Resort just north of the famed Seven Mile Beach.  Owner Nancy Easterbrook offers daily two tank morning dives, single afternoon dives and weekly night dives on the Kittiwake.
Diver Magazine toured the Kittiwake three different ways – down low, real slow and look out below.  And, for the first time it was a hands-free adventure, your reporter was liberated from his still camera, using instead a mini-HD video camera attached to the mask, to capture the adventure in real time.
It was a 2-tank morning dive followed by a snorkel on the ship. Although the wreck is a fast blast from Cobalt Coast another dive boat, a double-decker snorkeling boat and a workboat had already beat us to the best moorings.   There are six hook-up pins around the ship.
We dropped 75ft down into the sand a short swim west from the wreck. One heads towards shore, so, in the unlikely case that you miss this massive shipwreck, eventually you will make it back to your hotel. 
A big yellow tower designed for rescuing sub crews is easily seen even though the wreck is still a 5-minute swim away.  As you get closer you see that it is an overwhelming big piece of metal. And, it is very very busy.
You are aware of how many people are already on the wreck. Experienced divers cruise along the bottom of the upright wreck, at a depth of some 64 ft.  On the deck, 40 feet up, divers on their second dive of the day are photographing the wreck, reading the commemorate plaques installed by the dive association and swim through clouds of fish.  At the top you can see dozens of madly churning flippers keeping swimmers hovering over the ship’s superstructure.  Others stand on the roof of Kittiwake’s top deck.
Once on the wreck, that sense of population disappears. There are 5-decks and dozens of holds and rooms to explore – plenty of room for all the divers
Some of the passageways are tight fits, so be ready to fend off the walls and ceiling.  The recompression chamber. The mess. The wheel. A deck gun.  Everything is accessible. One of the big surprises?  Feeling a twinge of  acrophobia as we swim with our (mandatory) guide, indoors,  above a two-deck deep hold.
“When you come to Cayman, you are diving landscape – walls, canyons and pinnacles,” said Nancy Eastwood. “But once during you Cayman week, if you get to go to the wreck, you see things you don’t expect to find. It is surreal, Holy Smoke, this was a real ship. How could 98 people plus 10 officers, share the rec room, the mess or the heads for weeks at a time? It is an eye-opener into life aboard (a Cold War era navy ship).”
“Diving her feels like being part something,” she continued, “ Maybe it is like diving the Titanic. There are clocks on the wall. You can feel the crew. This was once a living ship and now you are experiencing it in 3-D!”
The Kittiwake has become part of Grand Cayman’s eco-system. Soft corals have begun to adhere to her deck.  Schooling fish live among the superstructure of the wreck.  Turtles, barracuda and small sharks can be seen in the low reefs near the wreck.  In March of this year a whale shark cruised within touching range of the ship.
“I swore after she was sunk, ‘ never again’. However, after seeing just how successful she is and how happy divers are that they made the trip, we do have our eyes open (for another shipwreck),” said Nancy Easterbrook. “ The Kittiwake is not the only wreck on the island you know.  We have 8 other worthy wrecks including the 200 ft deep Carrie Lee (tech divers only).”


Cayman Brac

Cayman Brac is located midway between Grand Cayman and Cuba.  It is 90 miles each way and 5 miles east to the smaller sister island, Little Cayman.
Only 1,800 people live on the island named after the 180 ft tall Brac (Scottish for bluff) at the end of the island.   Dive tourism is the main industry and the wreck of a Russian frigate her biggest underwater attraction.
The most famous artificial warship reef in the world is within swimming distance of Cayman Brac.  Alternately called the MV Captain Keith Tibbett, or the Russian Destroyer #356, she is now a 330ft living reef.
The Russian Destroyer wasn’t the first artificial reef created for divers but it had a wow factor that went viral long before YouTube had been invented. Diver  Magazine columnist Jean Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques, rode the warship to the bottom, waterproof camera in hand.
Cousteau’s footage was shown and re-shown at dive shows and sports conventions around the world. The movie, Destroyer for Peace, continues to air on television everywhere.
The sinking gained almost immediate support from the dive community.  It wasn’t just individual divers who came to dive the Russian Warship, there were American dive clubs flying in their own chartered airplanes that snapped up all the rooms in the Brac’s two dive hotels and filled every spot on Reef Divers’ five full sized dive boats.
Taking a product of the Cold War and turning it into a dive site – the ultimate swords into underwater plowshares – was an idea that fired the imagination of a generation of divers.  Since her sinking in 1998, other dive destinations, most noticeably Florida, have been sinking bigger and better warships for divers.
Russian Destroyer - Cayman Brac
The Soviet Union built the #356 quickly and cheaply back in 1984. It was one of fourteen Koni Class II patrol frigates (the destroyer moniker is a misnomer) hurriedly built for their base in Cuba. The missile carrying ship was in service for a scant nine years before being mothballed.  It was sold to the Cayman Islands for $250,000 and the 330 ft long ship was sunk in 1996.
When she sunk, the big thrill was penetrating into the ship and swimming along her corrugated metal passageways, climbing into her turret and photographing the double barreled gun which pointed menacingly towards the surface. Overtime the flimsy walls inside the ship have collapsed and soft and hard corals have begun to turn the Russian Destroyer into a living reef.
In 2009 a Category 4 (that is really big!) hurricane hit the Brac and Little Cayman.  Hurricane Paloma destroyed or damaged almost every structure on the two islands.  Brac was closed to tourism for nearly two years as roads, buildings, and the full service airport were rebuilt.
Paloma’s power was felt on land and underwater too.  The Russian Destroyer, damaged by an earlier hurricane in 2004, broke almost in two.  Her bow was wrenched around and lies at a 45-degree angle to her midships.  Like an underwater sea cucumber, the wreck has, following the big blow, spewed her guts upon the sand sea floor some110 ft from the surface. Broken up yes but in death there is beauty and life.
For a diver who has made many dives on the Destroyer over the past decade, the ongoing decay of the wreck has made her a more interesting dive.  Blessed with sparkling visibility, you can clearly see as nature reclaims the seafloor where the crumbling wreck now lies.
The guns are still there but they droop. And they are now covered with colourful corals. The crumbling radar installation is obscured from view by thousands of schooling jacks.  There are small areas of the ship that can still be penetrated, albeit for only a short distance. I entered one hold that looked like an underwater scrap yard, complete with a junkyard grouper staring menacingly at my light.  Sharks. Dolphin. Cruising Eagle Rays are common sights at the Russian Destroyer.
The wreck can be reached from shore, but it is a long swim.  There are two mooring buoys on the ship.  Reef Diver visits the wreck on an almost daily basis and the live-aboard Cayman Aggressor visits her weekly. There is a nearby scuttled tug, the Kissimmee, which is a popular night dive locale. 


Little Cayman

Little Cayman, the smallest, the flattest and the least populated (170 permanent residents) of the Cayman Islands is not known for its shipwrecks. 
The six or so dive resorts on the south side of the island are constantly in demand because divers are there to visit the two very best wall sites in the Caribbean. There are 50 different world class dive sites along Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson Bight.
The walls are so abrupt that the corals have grown out and up from the wall.  Dive guides like to say that the wall is  a straight shot 1,000 feet down.  At Bloody Bay the  top of the wall starts at a scant 18 feet below the surface.
The wall is very close to shore but is on the opposite side of the island from the hotels and lodges.  Dive operators, if you ask nicely, will often stop at the wreck of the Soto Trader on the return trip from the north side wall.
The 120 ft long Soto Trader has been underwater for 37-years.  Built of heavy grade steel, the remains of the inter-island freighter are relatively intact and will stay that way for years to come!
The ship sits upright in 60 feet of water close to the island’s main pier.  Much of her deck remains, and divers are able to easily penetrate her holds. There is the crumbling remains of a crane mounted mid-ship --the boom points bow to stern.
Little Cayman is little. So is its airport runway.  Almost everything the island needs, from fuel, to building material and food and liquor, comes from Grand Cayman Island by freighters like the Soto Trader.
In April, 1975, the Soto Trader, laden with cement mixers, a jeep, beer and fuel, stopped at Little Cayman. According to the Island’s Ministry of Tourism, the Soto “while at anchor, was pumping fuel into 55 gallon drums which were to be transported by small boats to the island when tragedy struck. Some of the diesel had leaked onto her deck and ignited from a spark, quickly engulfing the vessel in flames.” Two crewmembers died in the blaze.
She burned for more than a day. She was towed away from the shipping area and allowed to sink, creating Little Cayman’s only artificial reef.
Bits of the ship’s cargo are still in the accessible hold(although take it from me, there is no beer left to be found).  What makes the Soto an interesting dive, night or day, is the fish life that is attracted to what is the only elevation on a sandy bottom known as The Flats.
Here around the wreck there are many large sized, hard-to-spook, sand rays.  Large black and white Spotted and Eagle Rays endlessly cruise the water near the wreck.  Inside, thousands of  baby snappers, juvenile tangs and other colourful fish, hide out from their enemies.
The Soto has become a warship – not like the Kittiwake or the Russian Destroyer – but a warship just the same. In recent months divers have been noting lionfish swimming in groups of three and four – which has caught the attention and deep concerns of scientists who used to believe the Indo-Pacific Red Lionfish is a solitary predator. Local dive guides, when they have time, have taken to laying siege on the Soto and killing these packs of  lion fish that live  around the wreck site.



Sunday, 26 August 2012

Cayman Wreck Story. Flying to Grand Cayman from Canada and the US sidebar #4

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 Up in the Air about Wreck Diving off the Cayman Islands

 

How To Get There

Non Stop Service: Air Canada services the Caymans  from Toronto three times weekly in season, reduced service the rest of the year.  West Jet services the island three times weekly in season.

Other airlines:

Cayman Airways (Chicago / Dallas / Havana, Cuba / La Ceiba, Honduras / Kingston, Jamaica / Miami / Montego Bay, Jamaica / New York / Panama  | Tampa / Washington, DC / Cayman Brac)
United Airlines  (Houston / Newark)
Delta Airlines (Atlanta)
US Airways (Charlotte / Philadelphia)

Late breaking news

Just as Diver Magazine was going to press, Jet Blue Airlines announced that beginning in November it would be offering, three times weekly, service between Cayman Islands and New York and Boston.  Jet Blue is a favourite discount carrier for divers living in Ontario using the Buffalo NY and Detroit Mi airports.

Read the Diver Magazine feature by Stephen Weir, September 2012 cover story at:
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=488399485515759859#editor/target=post;postID=8728744913276254491

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Diving the Tibbets, err the Russian Destroyer, err the Koni II class anti-submarine frigate

The sinking of the MV Keith Tibbetts - The Russian Destroyer
Diving Cayman Brac's Historic Russian Destroyer

Off the north shore of Cayman Brac, in 1996, while film cameras whirled, Diver Magazine columnist Jean Michel Cousteau rode a decommissioned Cuban/Russian warship 30 metres down to sandy bottom close to shore. One of the world’s first artificial reefs for divers, the well publicized sinking made a worldwide statement about turning weapons of mass-destruction into eco-friendly tourist attractions!

The wreck is the only diveable Russian built warship in the Western Hemisphere.   Prior to sinking, the 285 ft long ship (known as number 356) was named the Captain Keith Tibbetts after a local dive operator and businessman.  The name hasn’t stuck too well, more often than not she is called the Russian destroyer even though she is a much smaller Koni II class anti-submarine frigate.

16 years after her sinking underwater journalist Stephen Weir, wearing a mini-underwater video camera strapped to his mask, revisited the crumbling wreck for a feature about Cayman Island's military artificial reefs - appear in Canada's Diver Magazine - September 2012.   This is that video (it is a new link - original link had to be changed).




Wednesday, 22 August 2012

You Tube - Snorkelling on the Kittiwake

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Shipwreck to hold you breathe for!

Frame Grab from a Stephen Weir YouTube video about snorkelling on a Cayman shipwreck

My wife and I are going to Little Cayman on October 5th to photograph spawning coral (full moon phenomena every fall in the Caribbean).  Thought it was time to post videos on YouTube from my last trip.  Picture above is a frame grab from a short video I shot while snorkelling on the wreck of the Kittiwake.  She is an artifical reef off Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island.  Diver Magazine will soon be publishing a feature on three shipwrecks on three Cayman islands. 

(No idea who the snorkeller is!)



Thursday, 16 August 2012

Italian Helicopter's Washington PR office flirts with Linked In to find Canada PR experts


ORNGE YOU GLAD YOU FOUND ME HERE IN CANADA THROUGH LINKEDIN?
By Stephen Weir

  
It was the promise of American money dropping into my lap that got my attention.  All I had to do, the LinkedIn messages suggested, was to help a US based lobby group protect the reputation of an Italian helicopter manufacturer that could soon be in the cross-hairs of the Ontario Provincial Progressive Conservative Party and the Toronto Star.   Piece of cake!
The Italian company has sold helicopters to the province’s Ornge Air Ambulance operation at a possibly inflated price and people want to know why.  At stake?  AgustaWestland’s ability to sell Italian made military helicopters in Canada and the United States.
It is a great assignment for someone like me.  A little background: Three months ago Dan Hill, Washington Lobbyist for AgustaWestland helicopter (European military / civilian manufacturer) made contact. I gave him a price, a suggested plan of action. He then disappeared ... all in a coupla weeks. 
Recently the same Dan Hill was quoted on the front page of the Toronto Star demanding that AgustaWestland get its money back from the Province. As well the company carpet-bombed the city with full-page advertisements in at least two daily newspapers.  His firm has decided to go it alone long distance from Washington.  

Dr. Christopher Mazza -- Ornge President and CEO and Emergentologist (right) and Giuseppe Orsi - CEO of AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company pose with  patient  in front of the Augusta helicopter ambulance at the Ornge Toronto Island Base. Canada News Wire photograph was taken on September 23, 2010.


I don't advertise. I don’t work for people I don’t know. But I was intrigued by the out-of-the blue LinkedIn poke (it is Facebook for business people).  I have a long history promoting aerospace products including the cruise missile, low level air defense tanks, small aircraft carriers (seriously) and I did in fact work on a marketing campaign for a component that went into AgustaWestland Cormorant helicopters purchased by the Canadian Forces.  Oh yes, and over the years I have written a number of articles for the Toronto Star.
Agusta's Washington PR agency found me.  They phone feted me. They heard what I had to say. They dropped me. Forget about polite no thanks; Agusta hasn’t LinkedIn to Emily Post.
What is at stake?  Everything, but at the same time, not much here in Canada.  There are no new helicopter ambulance buys in the offing right now (in fact the Province is trying to sell two of the 12 AgustaWestland helicopters that it had originally bought). There will be a requirement for shipboard helicopters if the Federal Government builds more frigates and patrol ships for our navy and the Coast Guard.  But that is years away, and funding for the ship-based helicopters could take a backseat to the ballooning cost of the F-35 buy.
No, the real concern is how the Ornge debacle will play out in an ongoing OPP forensic investigation.  If the Italian maker is found to have made untoward payments to the non-profit Ornge ambulance service, a directly related for-profit Ornge Peel marketing company and an Ornge registered charity, it could trigger serious legal problems in the United States. The word kickback has been uttered at an ongoing government hearing that the Province is holding.  It appears to me that they want to know if AgustaWestland willfully over-charged for the air ambulance choppers and then invested-back/donated the price difference paid - some 6 to 8 millions dollars - to the Ornge Peel marketing company and the charity.
Ornge Peel has been shut down with little to show for the millions invested. The charity is dormant.  Agusta, this month, has asked for its money back.  Presumably Conservative MPPs dogging the government over the helicopter purchase will be asking AgustaWestland for a rebate on the perceived overpayment.
According to testimony given by Ornge executive Steve Farquhar at the ongoing Provincial Government Hearings, the AW 139 helicopters were actually bought in the United States - meaning that if police turns up fraud, AgustaWestland will likely have to be concerned about the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Under this act companies found guilty of kickbacks and bribery charges outside of the country can also be prosecuted in the US!  Even though the Ornge deal was between an Italian company and an agency of the Province of Ontario, because some of the actual financial transactions took place in the US, the FCPA’s onerous penalties could come into play. 
It won't be the first time that the US Government has tackled offshore bribery charges. A recent Reuters story details the case of Siemens, a Germany based electronics giant. "In December 2008, Siemens and its subsidiary in Argentina pleaded guilty to criminal violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and paid $449 million in fines over a" bribe filled contract between the German company and the Argentine government,“ reported Reuters. "The case was filed in New York because the former executives took part in meetings in the United States and used U.S. bank accounts"
Time Magazine says that, as of 2012, there are currently about 150 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations under way, some of which target foreign firms. Company officials face high fines and possible jail sentences.  Firms risk being barred from bidding for US military contracts.
According to NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland's parent company "is facing a probe in India over financial irregularities involving a €560-million purchase of 12 helicopters. An Italian investigation into corruption in 2011 forced the chairman of this helicopter company to resign."
The company is also being probed in Rome about an alleged slush fund to funnel money to political parties. As well, the company's new CEO, Giuseppe Orsi, (pictured at a Toronto Island Airport photo op) has been questioned in the Italian press about a helicopters-for-Maserati luxury cars deal. The high performance autos are reportedly for the use of company officials.
Here in Ontario, the ongoing Provincial Government Hearing is in summer recess but will resume in the fall. The Ontario Provincial Police continue to investigate the case.  If need be, the RCMP can be brought in under the Federal Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has established a special unit dedicated to investigating international bribery and enforcing the CFPOA.
The Ornge investigation is off the front pages for the summer and the $30,000 full page ads appear to have been parked in their US hangar for now.  The PR team in Washington has time now to evaluate what they have accomplished.
They have skillfully tried to position AgustaWestland as the victim.  They are saying the company has followed the letter-of-the-law in selling a great helicopter to the people of  Ontario.  Their ads have stressed the reliability of their products.
However, Toronto is not Washington. Agusta need pin stripes on the ground – senior company officials (and PR voices) willing to meet the Toronto Star, the opposition politicians and the OPP on Canadian soil. Having a Beltway vet simply phone it in has a certain Yankee patronizing smell that Canadian reporters have long come to despise.
And the full page ads? At $30,000 a pop, they are spending major money to say nothing about the questions that are being raised at Queens Park by important (and trustworthy) Canadians.  I am sure the newspapers publishers are pleased at AgustaWestland’s expensive advertising campaign.  But, in the newsrooms?  Those ads have as little chance in influencing their future stories as an Ornge chopper flying through the eye of a needle.
What would I do to help AgustaWestland avoid the coming dung storm? Ornge you glad I am on LinkedIn?