RFA Mounts Bay has completed a brief maintenance period in the American port of Charleston to prepare her for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season.
The work was undertaken by American firm Detyens to allow the vessel to remain in the region. It is expected that RFA Mounts Bay will remain forward deployed for up to three years in the Caribbean. Detyens Shipyard took over the old Charleston Naval Shipyard in 1996 and is one of the largest commercial shipyard facilities in the United States boasting three dry docks, one floating dock and six piers.
Prior to going in for maintenance, Mounts Bay was most recently deployed providing support to the Turks and Caicos Islands where local authorities had been struggling to curb a mass influx of illegal arrivals from neighbouring states. The multi-agency Operation Guardian was launched in February and worked to bring the situation under control. First quarter statistics from the territory’s government revealed that some 432 individuals had been deported following the operation.
The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season will begin at the start of June and is forecast to be an above average season. Estimates suggest there could be between 14-18 named storms and at least seven hurricanes. This follows a busy hurricane system in 2017 which same hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria cause widespread damage.
The Bay class Landing Ship Docks are one of the Naval Service’s most capable platforms for Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operations with carrying capacity for large quantities of plant and supplies, landing craft and mexeflote systems to take them ashore and an embarked Lynx helicopter for aviation support. During the 2017 season RFA Mounts Bay worked extensively in support of the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands following their impact by severe hurricanes.
Following a brief workup period RFA Mounts Bay will steam for the Cayman Islands, Britain’s most westerly territory, to conduct a large scale landing exercise with local authorities. It will then continue its regular cycle of visits to British territories and Commonwealth states in the region to support disaster planning, preparation and training exercise.