RFA Mounts Bay has delivered essential aid to residents of Great Abaco in The Bahamas, say the MoD.

A release stated:

“The ship has distributed Department for International Development (DFID) relief items, including vital shelter kits. A rigid-hulled inflatable boat was deployed from RFA Mounts Bay this afternoon (04/09) with a dedicated Humanitarian and Disaster Relief team to join up with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and unload vital aid to some of those who have been worst hit by the category five storm.”

The ship has been in the Caribbean since June in preparation for the hurricane season and was re-tasked last week to sail to The Bahamas in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, the strongest ever recorded in The Bahamas, say the Ministry of Defence.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a news release:

“The highly skilled crew and specialist equipment of RFA Mounts Bay have been on call since June to support our overseas territories and friends in the hurricane season.

Its Wildcat helicopter has begun conducting reconnaissance flights of The Bahamas to help assess the damage and the crew have begun distributing UK aid. My thoughts remain with those affected and our world-class military will continue to assist the Bahamas Government to offer relief and aid to those who need it most.”

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said:

“The images of devastation and destruction across The Bahamas are truly shocking. The clock is now ticking to get help to those in need, and I’m pleased that Mounts Bay has begun to deliver life-saving relief items to those in desperate need.

Sadly, we know all too well that hurricane season in the Caribbean can wreak this level of catastrophe, which is why we sent a team of DFID humanitarian experts and prepositioned water carriers, hygiene kits and shelter kits on-board.”

RFA Mounts Bay has embarked a dedicated Humanitarian and Disaster Relief team, and is carrying vital aid and specialist equipment, such as all-terrain quads, dump trucks, diggers and stores.

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Steve
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Steve

I wonder why they choose a wildcat for the work, a Merlin or Chinook would seem far better suited for the rule, considering the extra weight they can lift / carry.

James
Guest
James

Because of that tiny inflatable hangar I’d imagine

Julian
Guest
Julian

That would be my theory as well – the limited size of the portable hangar.

Herodotus
Guest

Haven’t they been on anti-drugs smuggling duty as well? In which case the armed Wildcat would have made sense!

Julian
Guest
Julian

Good point. And the excellent sensor capabilities (radar, electro-optical turret, ability to archive sensor data for potential future court evidence) would have been extremely valuable in that role as well.

Your point notwithstanding, that temporary hangar wouldn’t have allowed a Bay to fully host (as in maintain) something the size of a Merlin anyway would it?

Herodotus
Guest

There was a chorus of approval on these pages to a lament that the Bays and Albions were not fitted with a decent hanger during construction…steel being cheap and a bit of plumbing added. Makes you wonder sometimes!

James
Guest
James

Think it can take a Merlin, for how long I don’t know but assume they’re all tied up at the moment with westlant and other deployments anyway

Martin
Guest
Martin

Merlin’s and too scarce and expensive for disaster relief.

Slasher
Guest
Slasher

Last time they did this with Hurricane Irma they sent Ocean. There’s a case to be made.

donald_of_tokyo
Guest
donald_of_tokyo

At least in Japan Tsunami relief on 2011, smaller UH-1J was in good use. This was because the down-wash was too strong in case of Chinook, when the landing zone was not clean.

Of course, Chinook had its own job when a clear landing zone was available. I understand they carry out different tasks.

Will
Guest
Will

Does anyone know if there are or were any options to refit the bays with permanent hangars? We use the so much it seems just logical to do so, maybe something that can actually house 1 or 2 merlins/wildcats?

Julian
Guest
Julian

It would make sense wouldn’t it. There certainly seems to be space. Here are a couple of pretty good photos courtesy of a SaveTheRoyalNavy article that shows the space currently occupied by the temporary hanger. I’ll only post one link here and do the second in a minute since I think too many links in a post can flag it for moderator review.

First pic…
comment image

Julian
Guest
Julian

And here’s the second pic…
comment image

There actually seems to be a fair amount of space, at least width-wise.

Herodotus
Guest

Just as a matter of comparison, the Italian Navy Comandante Class patrol boats (1,500 tons), that are smaller than the River Class, have a telescopic hanger that can take a decent sized chopper… up to an NH90!

Mark
Guest
Mark

Would it not be good if an range of the Caribbean countries could not provide facilities in terms of pre-positioned hardened storage for equipment, food medical supplies next to a short runway which could be easily cleared so that additional stuff could be flown in as required – or is this too much like common sense?

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

I think the Caribbean countries should collaborate and help pay for a large ( purpose built) hardened facility, with
its own self contained C4, power, water, sewage etc for storage of pre positioned equipment and emergency stores, with a runway capable of taking C17’s and lots of ramp space for helicopters.

Location mutually agreed and perhaps run by the UN.

It would allow a much faster response to such emergencies and a focus point for aid missions.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Why not just use a british island we have a load to choose from in the Caribbean and lots did have RN harbours at one point.

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

Good point Cam, this however needs to be an internationally owned facility and run by the UN to stop argument over how it’s used.

Otherwise we will end up footing the bill!

Mark
Guest
Mark

Thanks for the response John. I hope that such a solution is actively pursued with those entities needed to make this a reality. It would maximise the effects of our forces regardless of how they are funded.

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

Absolutely Mark, it’s an excellent idea you’ve got there.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Thanks John. On the off chance that there is anyone with any influence within HMG or elsewhere I will not be offended if they steal my idea – provided they use it and save some lives

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Big well done to RFA Mounts Bay, 17 RLC and all others embarked. Though not mentioned here, HMS Protector is also heading to the region to provide aid.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Hms protector! Can she hold enough stuff to make it worth while, she can’t even embark a chopper, and choppers are vital in some areas.

Martin
Guest
Martin

I hope DFID is finally paying for this out of its vast Budget.

James
Guest
James

It’s actually the perfect illustration of what our military does in peacetime and why the the defence budget should rise along with more versatile ships like these. If dfid shares the cost then fine, doesn’t matter either way

Herodotus
Guest

Not much hope of having any clear direction with the defence budget until this parliamentary crisis is over! So, not anytime this year then…nor next!

Mark
Guest
Mark

Parliament get their authority from the people. Are the people going to tolerate much more of this? If not it might be over quicker than you think?

Herodotus
Guest

The nation is divided…as is parliament. If you think that these issues are going to go away after a general election, I fear that you are wrong! If you are suggesting some sort of civil disobedience …. I doubt it….too many bar-stool warriors!

Mark
Guest
Mark

True the nation is divided on Brexit hence the reason Parliament passed to buck and put it in the hands of their bosses the people. If the people had said NO and Parliament had triggered article 50 there would have been hell to pay. This is about democracy and whether the people are happy to let parliament do as it wants or whether to people expect Parliament to do as per the democratic decision. No point in referendums unless you abide by the decision – certainly will be important for the Scots should the day ever come again! Not about… Read more »

Herodotus
Guest

And once..as you say…those that are blocking democracy have been spotted… then what? Would you like to tell us and GCHQ?

Mark
Guest
Mark

Oh that’s simple. They will be spotted by those on bar stools who might just over time change the conversation. Parliamentarians will sense the change and democracy will take its course. That is the strength of democracy and why it is and always has been worth fighting for.

Herodotus
Guest

Yes Mark…but how are they going to change the conversation…you mean, threaten violence do you?

Mark
Guest
Mark

The only way of changing a conversation is by engaging in conversation. To threaten or use violence in such circumstances shows the weakness of your argument. The conversation in this case accepts everyone’s position on Brexit but moves on under the spotlight of what is happening within the arguments between the different organs of the state to implement (or not) the referendum and seek guidance (or not) from the people. Referendums are relatively new in this country and this is the first to create such a rift. It is only natural that the constitution adjusts itself to accommodate these new… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I agree with you. Discussion needs to be the tool. However there is non of that happening. I also think we need to have laws in place that prevent politicians from knowingly and obviously lying, especially in cases that affect votes. Surely that is an affront to democracy? Our elected officials should be honest and transparent and the only situation where there should be leeway on that is for national security reasons and even then they should not be free to lie about whatever they want. I would also like to see them being forced to behave professionally in parliament.… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

I agree with the broad thrust of your argument. Following your arguments to their logical conclusion though we need to sort the fact from the fiction. We also need to accept that somehow we need to try to show the full picture. For example the issue of the £350 million in my opinion could not have been resolved with the actual figure for a particular period – you need to also explain what the country is getting for their money. If that is not shown then £350,000 a week would still seem like a lot of money to many and… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

The referendum was widely advertised as an indicative non binding vote. So we all voted knowing that parliament were not obliged to follow the result. The fact that the leave vote was widely based on lies and mistruths adds to the issue as did the fact that it was a very close result. It is a complex mess that could have been mitigated by simply following the precedent set in the vote to join the EU in the first place and making the vote a minimum majority of 60%. That way if they got the 60% then it would have… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

“The referendum was widely advertised as an indicative non binding vote.”

No it was not.

See HMG propoganda leaflet telling us all the disasters if the UK dared vote leave.
See Blair. Major. Khan. Cameron and just about every remain orientated politician going saying this is once in a lifetime, no going back, etc.

PM “We will do what YOU decide”

Sorry but in my world of English that says what it says on the Tin”

Regards.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Whether you were paying attention or not is irrelevant. It was fully known that it was not legally binding as no referendums in the UK are legally binding. They are there to gauge public opinion. Parliament remains sovereign with regard to referendums. As the vote was pretty much 50/50 I can understand why parliament is acting to protect the UK from itself given that they do not have to abide by the result. Especially given that MPs are often more clued up on the issues around these things than the general public are.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Lol! It was not fully known, as even politicians advertised it as such. And even if it was fully known it would not have changed the result. And of course if the vote had been remain Parliament would all now be solemnly expecting the vote to be respected. Priceless! I’m looking forward to IndyRef 2! It is only advisory so even if a majority of a vote choose it lets just ignore it! The UK is safe and well then and goodness knows why SO many politicians are using the threat of Scots Independence as a weapon AGAINST Brexit. Hmmmm!… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

Daniele it was widely advertised as binding but it wasn’t.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Referendum_Act_2015
There is (and has been) a lot of rubbish talked on both sides of the argument and perhaps looking forward we need some form of impartial agency to state the facts and highlight the fiction. It doesn’t unfortunately resolve the issue of opinion which allowed many an institution (for and against) to gaze into their crystal balls and present wishful thinking as fact

Herodotus
Guest

Hi Guys…this debate sent me looking for the government pamphlet entitled ‘Why the Government believes that voting remain in the European Union is the best decision for the UK’. I found it!
The only reference to its binding nature is under the last section entitled ‘A once in a generation decision’. It says ‘This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide’. Whether the Government had a right to promise that, given the historical advisory status of referenda, is another matter!

Mark
Guest
Mark

To be fair to Cameron Government they could have done just that in 2016. It was in the days when the Government controlled the parliamentary agenda and negotiated treaties. How things have changed.

Herodotus
Guest

Yes, and it also raises the question that it was Cameron’s government that promised it and didn’t deliver. Given that we are now on the 3rd Conservative regime, I hardly think that the promise still applies!

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Stop it, stop it, stop it, you know you get all breathless when discussing politics!!!!! Stick to the military subject, as with all due respect, you know what you talk about and, surprising as it may seem, on the military topic you and I think alike. Cheers.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Sorry Airborne my fault really. Whilst the discussion does not normally stray into politics I personally have noted that if politics in this country is turned on its head in the next weeks and months that could well have long reaching consequences for the chain of command, militarily funding etc. The political element in a democracy might be irritating but it does affect us all.

John Hampson
Guest
John Hampson

Said this for years.Use some of the wasted Foreign Aid budget to build a couple of Disaster Releif ships in British yards. Fund running costs from the same budget. Win win all round. People who are in urgent need get help, the UK manufacturing base, jobs and economy get support plus the Navy get access to very useful platforms in a crisis.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Definitely. I wonder how appropriate a platform the upcoming FSS ships would make for disaster relief vessels. Right now there is MoD budget allocated to build at least 2 of those but hopefully 3. If 1 or 2 DFID-funded disaster relief ships could be realised by adding 1 or 2 vessels to that build program it could (a) have the potential to reduce the cost of the dedicated RFA/MoD vessels via economies of scale and (b) also mean that, were the DFID-funded vessels bought into military use in a crisis, they would slot right into the maintenance and logistics chain… Read more »

donald_of_tokyo
Guest
donald_of_tokyo

Will the Britannia Maritime Aid (BMA)’s disaster relief ship, be able to be supported by DFID?

It is much smaller than Bays, so will not replace Bay. But it will be very useful in this kind of events. Depending on how significant the disaster be, UK can send only BMA disaster relief ship, or added with Bay, and then even added with QNLZ in very bad situation.

billythefish
Guest
billythefish

We should have kept Ocean and converted her into a DFID funded disaster recovery and civilian support vessel.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Or kept it as a military ship that was also tasked for disaster relief. There is little point in having a ship like that for only one purpose. Disaster relief has some major benefits. Most importantly It enables us to be kind and humane by helping people in trouble, this has the benefit of boosting our reputation which can also lead to increased trade etc. Also it enables pretty good training for conflicts as disaster zones have a lot in common with war zones, especially in the logistics of supporting landing troops etc.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Here is an interesting article about Britannia Maritime Aid’s plans for a disaster relief ship to be built Cammell Lairds https://www.clbh.co.uk/new-contracts/cammell-laird-helps-launch-plans-150m-disaster-relief-ship

Mark
Guest
Mark

Excellent. It would perhaps double as a royal yacht?

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Yes, it is a piece of good news. I don’t know about double as a royal yacht, but one of these could certainly form the basis of a new royal yacht, certainly it is around the right size.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

You know, when I was in the job, especially in the early years of service I had no clue about the capabilities and skills we had as a military, if it was not airborne, if it couldn’t be lobbed out of the back of a C130, I didn’t care. As you progress in rank and experience, and grow up, you realise what a balanced and skilled force we have, with capabilities most other countries would only dream of. And our RFA ships and crews are one of them. Essential, outstanding and always working hard with a multitude of task. Well… Read more »