RFA Mounts Bay is flying the flag across the Caribbean as she heads into Montserrat to continue a series of training exercises and goodwill visits as part of the standing Atlantic Patrol Task (North) (APT (N)).
RFA Mounts Bay took up her rotation in mid-July following a period of maintenance at Falmouth and relieved her fellow auxiliary, the Wave-class tanker, RFA Wave Knight. Since then she has visited a number of nations and territories within the region including Anguilla, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. APT (N) is primarily focused on providing regional support in the areas of Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) and counter-narcotics and remains a year round commitment for the Naval Service.
She will arrive in Montserrat on Tuesday morning for a three day visit. The visit had been scheduled as a four day event but was delayed and reduced by twenty four hours due to undisclosed “mechanical difficulties” with the ship.
Highlights of the visit will include a major training exercise at Little Bay testing the ability the ship to deploy resources ashore using landing craft and her embarked Lynx Wildcat helicopter, and then the ability of the island’s agencies to coordinate and deploy them effectively on land. Work will also be done to review the islands disaster management and contingency planning procedures using the expertise of the ship’s crew.
Mounts Bay will also be delivering a new Rigid Inflatable Boat to the island for use in search and rescue and policing operations. The vessel is formerly of the RNLI and is being loaned to the island by the British Government as a stopgap pending the arrival of a new purpose built police boat later in the year.
In addition the ship will conduct a number of the staples of a naval visit including a formal reception for the Governor, Premier and other distinguished guests and of course the highly competitive football match between representative teams from the ship and island.
The visit will be overseen by Lt. Col. Anton Gash who has recently arrived in the Caribbean as the new British Military Attache, he described the RFA Mounts Bay and her embarked assets as a “remarkable asset” for the region, views echoed by Governor Carriere who highlighted the visit as “another strong display of the UK’s commitment to supporting the region’s disaster management, safety and security interests”.
As a British Overseas Territory Montserrat’s defence remains the responsibility of the British Government. The island does however maintain the small, volunteer, Royal Montserrat Defence Force for ceremonial events and to assist in regional security and disaster relief.