Category: Uncategorized

Airlink | Tickets now on sale!

Ascension Island Government is pleased to announce that tickets for the Airlink service between Ascension Island and St Helena are now on sale.  Bookings can be made through the Travel & Shipping office.

Please click here for more detail about the monthly Airlink service, including frequently asked questions, and for information about how to book.

Airlink will operate a monthly service between Ascension Island and St Helena from November 2017.  This is an extension of the weekly Airlink service between St Helena and South Africa which begins on 14 October 2017.

Flights to Ascension Island will commence on Saturday 18 November 2017.

Shark Incident at English Bay, Ascension Island, Update 28 July 2017

At approximately 5.30 pm on Monday 24 July there was a serious, unprovoked shark attack at English Bay on Ascension Island involving a US citizen, who was paddle-boarding approx. 30 m from shore.

The victim, having been knocked off his paddle board into the sea and suffering multiple shark lacerations, was able to climb back on to his board until he could be rescued by the Ascension Island Sea Rescue Service. He was taken to the local Georgetown hospital where he received immediate medical attention for his injuries. The victim has now been flown back to the USA.

The Ascension Island Government has advised against entering the sea until further notice.

Ascension Island Government

Administrator’s Office

Georgetown

Travel To/From Ascension Island

Following the rerouting of the Airbridge last week, we appreciate that there is
considerable anxiety on island.

We are working incredibly hard with MOD and the Foreign Office to find a solution to
the current access issues as soon as we can, with the Administrator, Marc Holland,
working from the UK as part of those discussions.
Ministers are being kept up to date with the issues and the potential solutions, and
we are in discussions with local organisations to find solutions taking account of
essential passenger movements, and the needs of vital public services.
The Royal Mail Ship (RMS) will continue to provide access to the island and is
scheduled to run until February 2018 on its normal schedule. The next RMS is
scheduled to leave the dry dock on 3 May. However, this service is fully booked, and
affected employees should contact their employers about their transport
arrangements.

The tender process is underway to provide an airlink to St Helena in the very near
future including a minimum of a monthly flight to Ascension. The FIRS cargo service
remains unaffected and will continue to operate as normal.

We are working with the MOD to find an interim option to allow the movement of
personnel both to and from Ascension. However it is likely that these interim
measures will allow only the transportation of essential personnel and goods.
Until further notice, we suggest you work with your employer to re-route via St
Helena on the RMS and approach your travel insurance regarding any financial
losses incurred.

If you have any concerns please contact aigenquiries@ascension.gov.ac in the first
instance. For commercial passengers please contact Ascension Island Flight
Bookings on flight.bookings@ascension.gov.ac
Ascension Island Government
Administrator’s Office
Georgetown
Ascension Island
27th April 2017

Shark Awareness

As people are aware there have been an unusually large number of sharks around Ascension Island this last year and several Islander articles informing people of this increased abundance and the records of sightings collected so far have been published. AIG has also provided bins at the pier-head and asked fishermen to dispose of their fish waste in these bins in an attempt to remove the association of sharks with a constant food source in this area. These regular sightings at the pier-head saw social swimming there stopped (ie NY jump cancelled) as members of the public could see the sharks from the pier. However as shark sightings at Comfortless Cove and English Bay were limited the public continued to use the beaches to swim in the sea.
The recent shark attack incident has prompted a need to reassess the safety of swimming in any of Ascension waters, whether there has been a shark sighting or not. We must now of course accept that these beaches can no longer be considered safer than the pier-head for the public to use.
This is the first recorded shark incident on a swimmer in Ascension; however the increased number of sharks in our waters has brought this endangered species into conflict with swimmers at one of our traditionally safe swimming locations. Though it is worth bearing in mind that shark attacks are rare the recent incident is a reminder that we share the water with an apex predator and they deserve every respect when we enter their ocean.
Therefore we would advise that people don’t take unnecessary risks and ensure that both humans and sharks are given their own space to remain safe. See below some guidelines for entering waters in areas with known shark sightings/incidents.
It is not AIG’s intention to impose legal restrictions on people using the beaches and/or entering the sea. As with the swell conditions, any swimming in the sea is at the public’s own risk, if in doubt, don’t go in.
Warning signs are in place on the two public beaches. General guidance as to the presence of sharks in the waters will also be added to the usual safe swimming briefing given at the airhead and to visiting vessels.

Guidance for entering the water in areas with known shark sightings
• Check out the water before entering where possible – go to higher ground and look to see if any sharks are in the area – though of course be aware that sharks can still enter an area later on.
• Stay out of the water at dawn, early evening, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed on fish or baby turtles. Sharks are well equipped to locate prey even when visibility is poor.
• Avoid areas where fish waste enters the water.
• It is prudent not to enter the water with an open wound, however small it may be.
• After large swells the waters can become murky – avoid swimming during murky sea conditions.
• Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange and yellow are said to be risky colours) or shiny jewellery (which may appear to be like fish scales). Sharks see contrast very well.
• Refrain from excessive splashing. Keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are attracted to such activity.
• Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. Do not provoke, harass, or entice a shark, even a small one.
• If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area.
• Experts suggest that incidents with sharks are more common on lone swimmers – swim, surf, or dive with other people to reduce risk.
• If you are diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible. If you are carrying fish or other catches, release the catch and quietly leave the area.
Though not thought to be connected with the recent incident we would like to reiterate our policy of preventing the regular discarding of fish waste into the sea by using the bins provided. The regular source of food encourages the sharks to that area and gives them reason to remain there. Please also take your food and fish waste away from English Bay and Comfortless Cove to be disposed of at home or in the bins at the pier-head.

Ascension Island Government
Administrator’s Office
Georgetown
Ascension Island
24th April 2017

Flight Bookings Suspended Until Further Notice

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) are temporarily re-routing the South Atlantic Airbridge via an alternative location and have decided to suspend operations to Ascension Island for the landing of the Airbus A330 (AirTanker Voyager) until further notice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and MOD are working closely to put in place measures to support the people who work on Ascension Island. Arrangements are currently being made to repatriate individuals currently on Ascension Island who are unable to travel back to the UK on the Airbridge due to the re-routing.

Unfortunately, Ascension Island Travel Agency (AITA) is unable to process any further flight bookings (new bookings or amendments) until we have clarity about an alternative service to and from Ascension Island.

AITA will contact all passengers booked to travel to Ascension Island in the coming weeks to provide further information about their booking. However, please be advised that at this stage, all non-essential passengers are unlikely to be able to travel to Ascension Island.

A further update will be provided in due course.

Please contact the Director of Resources, Jamie Manson at jamie.manson@ascension.gov.ac or on +(247) 67000 extension 110 if you have any concerns regarding this matter.

19 April 2017

Voyager Air Tanker Flights Suspended

As part of on-going monitoring of the state of repair of the Ascension Island’s runway, the MOD is temporarily rerouting the South Atlantic Airbridge via an alternative location and have decided to suspend operations to Ascension Island for landing the A330 (Voyager Air Tanker) until further notice.

The MOD will ensure the continuation of military support to the Falkland Islands through an alternative hub, and are working the Foreign Office to put in place measures to support the people who work on Ascension Island.

AIG will issue further updates once further information has been received from the MOD.

Please note this will not affect emergency medical evacuation flights.

For any immediate emergency concerns over the Easter bank holiday, please contact Iain Robertson, AIG’s Director of Operations.

For after the Easter bank holiday or for non-immediate concerns, please contact AIG’s Policy Officer Matt Pritchard-Evans on matthew.pritchard-evans@ascension.gov.ac or 247 67000 ext 116.

Ascension Island Government

 

Commonwealth Walkway Unveiled on Ascension Island

Ascension Island today celebrated the opening of its Commonwealth Walkway around Georgetown. The Commonwealth Walkway is a 7 km pathway connecting 10 of Georgetown’s historical highlights which can be enjoyed as a continuous route over a couple of hours or in sections.

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The Walkway begins outside the AIG Government offices and is marked by a plaque and a panel showing the route and giving historical context to the points along the Walkway. These points of interest can be explored in more detail by downloading full details of the route from The Outdoor Trust (paper copies also available from the Ascension Island Conservation Office).

The Walkway was officially opened by Captain of the RMS St Helena, Captain Rodney Young, at an opening ceremony attended by representatives of the Heritage Society and members of the community. The Administrator, Marc Holland, also made a short speech, encouraging locals and tourists alike to explore the Walkway. The Administrator paid special thanks to Hugo Vickers and Jim Walker of the Outdoor Trust for approaching Ascension with the great idea in the first place and the Ascension Heritage Society, in particular Helen Scott and Drew Avery, for their full support, including raising funds for the project and helping to arrange today’s ceremony.

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The project has been made possible through the support of the Ascension Island Heritage Society and the Ascension Island Government and is the brainchild of The Outdoor Trust. Her Majesty The Queen has given The Outdoor Trust permission to create walkways in cities throughout the Commonwealth, marked with Her personal Royal cypher. The Trust plans to create 100 new walkways in the main towns and cities of the Commonwealth’s 71 nations and territories in the next four years. The first Commonwealth Walkway was opened in Windsor in November 2015.

The Commonwealth Walkways will be within reach of two billion people and all will be dedicated to The Queen’s unfailing service and leadership as Head of the Commonwealth for more than 65 years. The Walkways will thread together 3,000 of the most significant highlights of the Commonwealth and each will be marked permanently with a large bronze plaque displaying The Queen’s personal EIIR Royal cypher.

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Special thanks are due to the MOD for arranging the safe transport of the panel and plaques and to AIG staff for their work to ensure the installation of the panel.

More information about the Commonwealth Walkways can be found at the website of The Outdoor Trust.

New Council Elected for Ascension Island

A new Council for Ascension Island has today been announced by Returning Officer Dean Hambleton-Ayling, following an Island-wide election on Thursday 1 September 2016.

The following candidates have been duly elected to serve as Members of the Ascension Island Council:

  • Samantha Jean Arms-Lawrence, Georgetown
  • Marie-Anne Mabel Dennis, Two Boats
  • Jacqueline Rose Ellick, Georgetown
  • Keturah Viola George, Georgetown
  • Nicholas Ivan John, Georgetown

Read more about the election results here.

Today Governor Lisa Phillips congratulated those elected to serve on the Ascension Island Council and noted the encouraging 80% female representation.

Governor Lisa Phillips said:

“Congratulations to those of you who have been elected to serve as Councillors of Ascension Island. I wish you all the best in the important roles you must now carry out – especially as you are my ‘eyes and ears’ on Ascension. I look forward to working with you all.”

Ascension Island Administrator, Marc Holland, added:

“The Governor & I look forward to working with our new Island Council. They are the people’s representatives who do fantastic public service. We would like to get the whole community more involved in Council business.”

In total 121 people cast valid votes. This represents approximately 23% of those eligible to vote – compared with 35% in 2013.

The Ascension Island Council met for the first time today, Friday 2 September, at 1pm when members Keturah George, Marie-Anne Dennis, Jacqui Ellick and Samantha Arms-Lawrence took the Oaths of Office. Nicholas John will take the prescribed Oaths when he returns from overseas leave.

Ascension Island Council Members

Newly elected Ascension Island Council (front row) 

2 September 2016

Ascension celebrates 26 years of the RMS St Helena

The arrival of the RMS St Helena last weekend should have signalled the final call of the ship at Ascension.  However, as we all know, the ship is due to make a few more stops at the island before it is able to sail off into retirement.  The reprieve did not stop the planned celebrations taking place and on Sunday evening the people of Ascension came together with the Captain and crew of the ship to thank them for the 26 years of dedicated service to the islands of Ascension and St Helena.  The warehouse and passenger terminal at the Pier Head were given a nautical makeover, specially designed by Marie-Anne Dennis; appropriately making all who have sailed on the ship feel immediately at home. Over 500 people came along for a fantastic evening of food, drink and music.

The Administrator and Captain both welcomed everyone to the evening’s celebrations with speeches, which we have re-printed below.  The Administrator said:

“Ladies, Gentlemen, Captain and Members of the RMS Crew

“Welcome aboard the RMS St Helena on Ascension!  Haven’t the AIG team done a wonderful job decking out the warehouse in the style of the RMS? Let’s show them our appreciation.

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“Of course, tonight was meant to be a retirement party – to celebrate the final call of the RMS St Helena in Ascension before she sails off into retirement.  But windshear at St Helena’s airport has stirred things up a bit, and instead, we are now throwing a birthday party: to celebrate the RMS’s 26 years of dedicated service to Ascension and St Helena.

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“Captain Rodney, Ascension wants to say thank you to you and the crew for everything you have done for the South Atlantic islands over the years.  It’s fantastic that so many of the crew we all know well and love have been able to come ashore – a rare treat for Ascension these days.  And our American cousins even closed the runway in your honour (!), meaning you need to stay an extra night to pick up your connecting passengers and everyone can have a lie in in the morning, which the Governor has declared a bank holiday!

“At my speech at the recent Queen’s Birthday Party, I likened the RMS to an ageing rock band on its final world tour, having just got back from the London gig. I saw the RMS come through Tower Bridge.  Just as the bridge went up, the dark clouds lifted and the sun came out for a moment.  The crew were waving from the deck.  It was a very emotional occasion.  I was standing on the south bank of the Thames just along from HMS Belfast and suddenly I heard the familiar lilt of Saint voices all around me, including from Rodney’s family who were shouting: ‘Look, there’s Uncle Rodney!’  Everyone was smiling and waving.  There was a tremendous feeling of pride and community spirit.  And, just like a Rolling Stones tour, the RMS has been sold out for months, so SHG have now released extra dates until September with more perhaps to follow!

“I know this is not the final time we will see the RMS sail off from Clarence Bay.  But the reprieve we have been given will pass quickly.  I would still like to pause a moment to consider what the RMS means to us all.

“I have been fortunate enough to have been on 3 voyages on the RMS.  I’m glad I did.  I only really understood what this splendid vessel meant to people on Ascension when I experienced it myself.  It’s more than just a means of getting to your destination safely and the chance to enjoy some good food.  The RMS is a gentle introduction to island life – the genteel pace, where people have time for conversations, to tell stories and to take afternoon tea.  Where you join the ship as strangers and leave with new friends.

“For your time on board you join a well-functioning family unit.  The crew look after you and keep you in check if you step out of line.  My family and I had fabulous support from Rodney and the crew on the Christmas voyage to Cape Town when 3 of my children did not have the right type of birth certificate to clear South African immigration.  Even though we enjoyed our RMS journey, we would not have been happy to miss our holiday in South Africa and be sent back to Ascension!

“For many Saints, wherever life takes you, all paths will converge on the RMS.  The RMS is the bridge over which anyone wanting to get to or from St Helena must pass.  For many Saints, it signifies going home and the start of a holiday.  But it’s more than that – it has great emotional significance.  It is entwined with life events.  If you are leaving home in search of riches or love abroad; if you are getting married and are going on honeymoon; if you are taking a new baby to see its grand-mother or if you are accompanying a loved one to get urgent medical attention, you travel on the RMS.  As I saw with the moving ceremony for Mycle ‘Dook’ Williams at the pier head 18 months ago, it’s also how some Saints make their final voyage.

“The RMS is a constant – whatever life throws at you.  Just like for some Christmas might be a marker of the passage of time, the annual journey on the RMS is a time to take stock of what has happened in your and your family’s life.

“Of course for Ascension, the RMS has had a practical purpose.  It’s been the lifeline for the civilian population.  It’s how the employers get their work force to their place of work.  It is how the shop gets its fresh food.  It’s how people send their things, whether gifts for the family or their life’s possessions home.  Thank goodness it will continue for a while yet!

“In a moment I will ask Captain Rodney Young to give some personal reflections about his time on board the RMS and perhaps tell us about the recent celebrations in the UK.  I am delighted that Rodney has invited our school children aboard tomorrow to look around.  And those who have tirelessly and safely worked ship over the years will be the RMS’s guests for afternoon tea tomorrow.

“And finally, I would like to say thank you to those who made this evening’s party possible.  Thank you to Kitty for the idea, Catherine, Marie-Anne, Steve and his team for organising the party.  Thanks to Two Boats School and our school children for the artwork.  Isn’t it fantastic? Thanks too to SHG/AWS for allowing the ship to stay at Ascension overnight and above all to Rodney and the crew for wanting to join us.  Enjoy the party!”

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Captain Rodney Young then took the opportunity to address everyone. He began by saying: “I have just received a message to say that the RMS schedule will be extended until Lyn and Eileen Leo leaves Ascension.

“When I first visited Ascension Island it was a very different place to what it is today. You had a better chance in those days of getting into the White House than getting ashore here.The Island was ruled by King Ron Field and John Taylor, you had to be sponsored, and timings were strict, there was no overnight shore leave.

“I worked with Ralph Peters, and Peter Peters, with Scipio and of course the unforgettable Dave Caine.   But times have moved on and here we are tonight being entertained by the Government and People of Ascension Island, on as you put it our final world tour, and I thank you most sincerely for this kind invitation.

“We have just completed a trip to the UK and to our home port of London, where we able entertain a large number of people, including yourself, the Administrator of Tristan and the Deputy Governor of St Helena, and of course Princess Anne, who left us in no doubt that she prefers sea travel to air travel.

“As ships’ staff we had a difficult task at these functions as we had to promote an Island which has an airport that doesn’t work, a ship that is about to be withdrawn and had to ask people to come and live in hotels that had not been built, but somehow we did it and got away with it.

“For the last 26 years we have been working on that wonderful passenger ship the RMS, but it now feels like its turning into a film set, and we are all starring in film called ‘Carry on Regardless’, because we don’t know when it is going to end, we have Tee shirts printed, the plaques engraved, but with all the wrong dates, a count down clock that should today be showing 12 days to go,  which a few days back, some bright spark changed to 901 days to go. St Helena has its windshear problems, and last week there was severe turbulence in the Customs shed.

“The RMS is nearing the ends of its life here in the South Atlantic, and I know that the people here on Ascension will miss it, especially the bingo, the shop, the perfumes, British chocolate, and the BBQs, but most of all you will miss the 4-cube, how are the people of Ascension going to live without the 4-cube allowance?  I cannot wait to see you all turning up at the airport with these boxes. If ever I write a book about the RMS, I will have to have few chapters on baggage; Saints will never understand that a 3 piece suite or a washing machine is not cabin baggage.

“So ladies and gentlemen on behalf of the all the crew thank you once again for this kind invitation tonight, and to say how impressed we are with this wonderfully decorated hall. And that I understand that only the older children are visiting tomorrow, and not the younger ones, but I will arrange with Kitty to have the young children to come to the RMS in the months ahead.”

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A selection of photographs taken from the buffet lunch hosted by Captain Young on board the ship on Monday, 4 July.  A very big thank you to Captain Young and the crew of the RMS St Helena for their hospitality while in port as they also hosted pupils from Two Boats School as well as laying on afternoon tea for AIG ship workers.

 

Ascension Hydroponics Site Opens

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The Ascension Island Government has officially opened a hydroponics site to produce good quality veg and salad crops for sale to the people of Ascension. The site is located below Two Boats and has been developed by AIG’s Hydroponics Consultant, Stephen Herron. The hydroponics site welcomed over 150 people through its doors over the ‘open’ weekend of 25-26 June 2016 to allow the wider community to find out more about how the veg is grown and what is available. Feedback from the visitors was very overwhelmingly positive. The Administrator and Stephen Herron then officially declared the site open at a well-attended launch event on Monday 27 June, with representatives from across the island community present.

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Securing a supply of fresh salad and vegetable produce for the island has been high on the Government’s priorities. Up to now, islanders have relied on the monthly call of the RMS St Helena for a limited supply of fruit and veg from South Africa. With the future decommissioning of the RMS, there was a real concern about the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables on the island.

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Marc Holland, Ascension Administrator, commented “AIG fully acknowledges the importance of fresh produce for the health and wellbeing of the people working on Ascension. Hydroponics allows us to take advantage of the Island’s benign climate to produce our own veg on island. Local production means fresher veg, lower prices and a constant supply.”

Following a handover from consultant Stephen Herron, Ascension Hydroponic Services will now be headed up by the Site Manager, Regan Tourond, who has recently arrived on island. Regan has substantial growing experience around the world including in Canada and South-East Asia. Regan said: ‘This is not the first time Ascension has been home to hydroponics and the stable climate makes this a great place to grow using this system’.

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How does hydroponics work?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. This allows for very efficient growing conditions, as the plants are not threatened by the pests and disease that can be found in the soil and the process actually uses less water than traditional farming, as none of it is absorbed into the soil.

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Currently the site is using mains water to grow the produce; in the future we would like to use collected rain water to assist in this process.

 

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Mixed salad, baby leaf lettuce and Pak Choi make up the main produce grown currently. These crops have a quick turnaround and are straight forward to grow. AIG will be looking to expand the selection available in the near future, once the collection of rainwater has been established. This will allow for the growth of more water-hungry produce such as root vegetables and fruit. The produce will be sold from Solomon’s Georgetown store and from JAMS in Two Boats and to the Island’s clubs and food outlets. A delivery schedule will be arranged with the stores and clubs to ensure a continuous supply.

 

AIG 28 June 2016