RFA Mounts Bay has delivered six tonnes of emergency aid to Anguilla and will shortly arrive in the British Virgin Islands.

According to the MoD, the ship has been deployed in the Caribbean since July in preparation for the hurricane season, ready to provide support at a moment’s notice. Tasked by the Royal Navy, she was the UK’s first military response to the Caribbean.

“The ship carries a specialist disaster relief team – drawn from the Royal Engineers and Royal Logistics Corps – as well as heavy plant for lifting and shifting and emergency kit and shelters provided by the Department for International Development. Also on board are the Royal Navy’s Mobile Aviation Support Force – aviation specialists, meteorological advisors and flight deck crews.

Engineers were on hand to stop a potentially-dangerous fuel leak at Anguilla’s main petrol dump, restore power to the island’s sole hospital and hand out shelters providing temporary homes for people left homeless by the storm. They also cleared the runway which was declared safe for relief flights.”

RFA Mounts Bay’s Wildcat helicopter – from 815 Naval Air Squadron based at Yeovilton – also flew Governor Tim Foy on a flight over the island – which is about the size of Plymouth – to survey the damage from the air during seven hours of continuous flying. The reconnaissance flight found widespread damage to infrastructure, schools, government buildings and power supplies.

As a result of the sortie, the island’s leaders and ship’s team decided to focus efforts on supporting the police headquarters as the hub of the relief effort, get the hospital on its feet again, and reinforce two shelter stations – particularly important with Hurricane José now barrelling towards the region.

Mounts Bay’s Commanding Officer Capt Stephen Norris RFA said:

“My people worked tirelessly throughout the day with determination and flexibility to support the Governor and the people of Anguilla.

Although Anguilla suffered extensive damage, normal signs of life were returning – some roads open and the local population beginning a recovery and clear-up operation.”

RFA Mounts Bay is now making for the British Virgin Islands – 90 miles to the west – to concentrate today’s disaster relief efforts.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Well done, our service personnel are doing an amazing job and cannot do anymore.

    But let’s be clear the response to the biggest hurricane to hit a British territory since 1920 has been nothing short of a disgrace, one ship with no heavy lifting equipment to move trees etc. Where is the ship from Atlantic patrol tasking south? we are supposed to have a permanent presence in the South Atlantic. The French and Dutch had a comparable task force to HMS Ocean on it’s way a day earlier than us.

    “in Saint Martin, the French made sure that they had military on the ground, so that the response given is timely, effective and helpful. That was sorely lacking in our [Britain’s] case.”

    “While we understand that these things take time, I personally am very disappointed. We are supposed to be the same status as Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands.”

    That’s from a British lawyer on Anguilla.

    People running this country are absolutely clueless in a crisis, it was the same with Grenfell, sat on their a**e for a couple days.

    • KieranC – Once again you are not reading an article and jumping to score political points. Neither of which is helpful or appropriate. No heavy lifting apparently?
      You then quote:
      ““in Saint Martin, the French made sure that they had military on the ground, so that the response given is timely, effective and helpful. That was sorely lacking in our [Britain’s] case.”
      Well just 3 paragraphs in it says:
      “The ship carries a specialist disaster relief team – drawn from the Royal Engineers and Royal Logistics Corps – as well as heavy plant for lifting and shifting and emergency kit and shelters provided by the Department for International Development.”
      So that would be military personnel on the ground with heavy lifting kit.

      The ship was pre-positioned with all the equipment and more importantly the skilled personnel needed in the immediate aftermath. It has been there since July. Somewhat ahead of the French and Dutch. And in the first days they have restored a hospital, stopped a major fuel leak and made the airfield available for our flights that were dispatched in very short order. Flights equipped with what was EXACTLY needed as those skilled people on the ground hours after had assessed and demanded.

      So we pre-empted the damage, had skilled assessors on the ground and heavy equipment in place within hours. Somewhat different from the politically biased picture you paint.

      And then you sink to the real depths of Corbynista Momentum crap and mention Grenfell by saying:
      “People running this country are absolutely clueless in a crisis, it was the same with Grenfell, sat on their a**e for a couple days.”
      And again you mislead as to what happened but then that is par for the course with you Lefties. The PM was on scene at 6AM the following morning IN PRIVATE being briefed by emergency services as to what was needed. And that was provided. She then visited survivors IN PRIVATE in the hospitals and later met those who had escaped IN PRIVATE at a local hall. Ministers have been meeting residents on many occasions including the PM last week at Downing Street. Every resident has been rehoused, their wishes respected as to whether they wish to remain in the area or move or stay put for a while. £Millions have been given in the immediate aftermath to assist.
      What did your Messiah do? Oh he went grubbing around in the ashes of dead people with a full mob of media in tow being organised for a photo opportunity and ‘selfies’. Adding the square root of sod all to proceedings. While his best buddy McDonnell was accusing Ministers of murder. But that is more ‘relevant to the community’ I guess.

      Right on Brother ….

      • “Given that hurricanes are not new in the Caribbean and always happen at this time of the year, why is it there was no standby facility to deal with this sort of emergency given that we see that France and Holland had prepared and as a result were able to react much more speedily than we were able to do?

        “Why was it given that last weekend when it was quite clear this was potentially the worst hurricane ever to hit the Caribbean, there was no voice, no questioning, no statement from Dfid [the Department for International Development] and it took until Wednesday for Dfid to indicate what they were doing.”

        “He also suggested Mounts Bay, prepositioned in the Caribbean, possessed no heavy lifting gear, essential to lift fallen trees from houses and roads”

        Do you know said that Chris? That was Lord Naseby a conservative peer, so I suppose that goes against your narrative that this is left wing nonsense doesn’t it.

        I have never once not read an article and commented on here, I said “lifting gear to move trees etc” going by the pictures of all the equipment coming to shore it does not look like there is a heavy lifting plant there, a bulldozer yes, but a specialist heavy lifting plant no, I’m just going off the pictures and what people are saying Chris.

        We all knew the ship was there, there is a ship there every year for this sort of thing but once we knew it was going to be worse they could of done more, a ship that should of been on APTS would of been ideal, I mentioned that and I’m quite shocked you don’t agree.

        Your last paragraph, wow, what an angry man you are. I shouldn’t even have to pick that apart Chris, when you’re chased into your car from a baying mob of angry residents, maybe you didn’t do enough. The response from the council was a disgrace Chris, everything was provided from donations the first days, the people had nothing outside in the shelters and it was charities doing all the work, I cannot believe you’re trying to say everything was hunky dory after that fire, families still were sleeping on the floor in shelters 4 days after the fire you moron. The government didn’t have a clue what was going on on the ground! Only though massive media criticism did they eventually send in a task force to take over. You really are laughable.

        • And you keep saying PRIVATE in capital letters like that was the right thing to do 😂 She is the Prime minister for crying out loud, what leader of a country do you know that does that, the only reason she met people in private is because she is an out and out s***house. I’ll tell you something else as well, David Cameron would of been on the ground, at least he had some backbone to do tv debates and meet real people, he would of the took the flack. Tory MPs went in and took the flack, MP’s of all parties did, even the Queen and Prince went in, the one person who didn’t have the minerals was Theresa May.

          You don’t have to be uber staunch Tory all the time Chris, I respect that you support and vote conservative thats your choice, but to be such a party cheerleader even in the face of the overwhelming opinion just reeks of bare stupidity, which from some of your decent comments on here I’m pretty sure you’re not.

          • Kieren – If there were no heavy lifting equipment on board what is all that on the Mexflote being exercised back in July to train for a hurricane event?
            https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2017/july/14/170714-rfa-mounts-bay-displays-capability-during-visit-to-grand-cayman

            GRENFELL
            If you are at Grenfell to deal with the issues and problems and support crews and survivors you do it privately. If you are there to score political points and make a name for yourself you take a media mob and organise selfies. That is the difference. Funny I never mentioned Tory or Labour once but you have to. I just think Corbyn is an utter moron and he proved it at Grenfell. While TM just PRIVATELY and quietly got on with doing what was necessary. And for that you abuse her? Pot / Kettle / Black?

            It seems you are wedded to the Social media way of life and feel the need for ‘comment’ at every event. You say even Cameron would have been on the ground. Well so was TM. At 6AM the following morning as soon as emergency crews said it was safe so to do. Who found out? Oh that would be the Daily Mirror!
            http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-makes-private-visit-grenfell-10626142

            Oh and what ‘overwhelming opinion’ would that be? the one in your Cobynista Echo Chamber. Well out here in the real world TM won the election and defeated Corbyn by a country mile. As I said before (which you twisted) she got 22% more seats than he did. He managed 4 more than Brown did in 2010. THAT is the only opinion poll that matters. And I am sure millions of students and returning Labour Brexit voters are seriously wondering why they wasted their votes on a two faced manipulating old Marxist who misled them. Or lets look at YouGov 6th September?
            “YouGov for the Times had voting intentions of CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 6%(-2), UKIP 4%(+1). Fieldwork was Wednesday and Thursday last week and changes are from a week before.

            So maybe a) read articles properly, b) do your research and c) stop making political points out of every damn event. Because you will get nailed.

      • Just ignore KeirenC Chris, the man’s got a chip on his shoulder and seems to spend every article sh**ting on the UK, like how he’s making a mountain our a molehill that theres no heavy lifting equipment, equipment that is almost certainly being brought in by plane now that the airport is back online. Our response is equal if not more than France or the Netherlands. It’s sensationlists like KeirenC that try to play it down.

        • Lewis what are you talking about, I’m always balanced with my opinions and I praise the government when it warrants it. Like under the NSS strategy I could not of praised it highly enough.

          “Every article s*****g on the UK” ??

          What articles are these then?

          The lifting gear was probably the least important of the issues, the main one for me is the lack of a APTS ship that could of been there to assist, then why we can’t have a proper facility with troops on the islands like the French and Dutch, and then the late response from our politicians.

          Those issues seem quite reasonable to me.

  2. It kinda calls into question why we do not have more hospital ships. The bay’s are great for this type of situation, but i suspect backing them up with a hospital ship would be much appropriated.

    Its sad to say but disaster relief is becoming progressively more needed in recent years and so maybe its time to invest in vessels that are more suited for the role, with an option amb usage should a war hit.

    A cross between the bay class (supply transport) and ocean (helicopter platform) with a hospital option would seem perfect. Should it be needed in a war situation, i’m pretty sure all 3 usage would come in handy.

    • Proper ( as in unarmed) hospital ships would be a great way to spend the aid budget, give the hangers, flat decks, loads of space for containers, even a well deck, build them in our ship yards. Man them from a mix of RN/RFA, staff and training costs from the aid budget ,squadron of helicopters could be merlins SAR build ordered from Westlands painted yellow.

      Our 12 billion a year could give use an unparalleled ability to react to disasters around the world, support our industries, employ more RN and RFA and actually save lives and get influence. America can be the worlds police, we could be its ambulance service….

      The fact you could immediately if needed spray all the above grey and use in as part of our core armed forces is of course irrelevant.

  3. p.s. very proud our service men are heading out to help countries that rely on us, just a shame it took negative media stories to get the politicians to authorise it, but I guess that is the power of the media, it’s there when needed even if 99% of the time it’s reporting on stories that are not in the public interest and only there to sell papers.

    • Steve in fairness as the article says the UK Government pre-positioned Mounts Bay precisely for the hurricane season and was able to be right in there as soon as the winds died down. Experts assessors have now decided what is needed and that was flown out very quickly. Better a slight delay and get it right than send ships with all the wrong kit surely?

      Not sure what the media beef was all about other than as you say to create a non-story to sell papers.

    • The news did very little. The personnel started flying out there once the airfield had been fixed by RFA Mounts Bay. They cant land planes a transport plane on the water you know.

  4. I think the Press and some of the local politicians in Anguilla have unduly harsh in their criticism. The facts are that the RFA were on scene and reacting within approximately the same time frame as the Dutch and French. The RAF were there shortly thereafter and are flying supplies and manpower as we speak. Also the comments about HMS Ocean needing 10 days to reach the area ignore the fact that the deployment of the Ocean is NOT part of the primary response. It will be there to provide more of the considerable assistance that will be needed in the weeks and months to come. By the time HMS Ocean is on site the RN/RFA will have more tonnage in the Caribbean than the French and Dutch combined

    • To be fair to them though Geoff, even if our response was quicker and we had two ships there, the people have just lost everything, their lives turned upside down, they are hardy going to be in a gracious mood are they.

      I think the main gripe was it took nearly a whole day for a comment from our government, while the French and Dutch had already released statements and got in touch with the islands governors and told them help was on its way. Yet once again our people had to wait for an official comment or promise of extra help.

  5. Also that woman who so ungraciously and ungratefully condemned the UK’s response should perhaps thank God that they are a British Overseas territory and not a Haitian or Cuban Dependency…

  6. And of course our Government was never talking to the Governors and other Senior staff actually on the islands before the hurricanes hit? Mounts Bay ‘just happened to be there’? A pure coincidence? No. We were ahead of events
    What we are seeing is the usual tripe prevalent in modern day media led by the screechings of ‘Social Media’. “Its the Government’s fault!!!” Especially if you are an Opposition Leader scoring cheap points. What ‘comments’ were missing precisely? The Prime Minister in tears laying a bunch of flowers amongst cheap candles at a two bit ‘memorial’? The Government made many ‘comments’. From the PM tp various Secretaries of State spoke about their relevant roles especially Fallon and Priti Patel. The Prime Minister stayed in London, chaired COBRA and took briefings while events unfolded.

    The UK had a ship on station before the hurricanes struck ready for immediate post event assistance and more importantly assessment of what was THEN needed. That assessment was therefore by trained and very skilled people on the ground. That led to a detailed first post event response with three aircraft on their way with more to follow. Kemble is a VERY busy place right now.

    So the French and Dutch got ships moving as the hurricanes ended. They sailed with what exactly? How did they know what was needed? Someone on Twitter told them I guess.

  7. As much as i would like to believe the above, we all know how politicians work.

    If the ship was already immediately being prepared to be on its way as soon as the hurricans hit, we would have an immediate news story along the lines of “thanks to our raising defense budget and the 178b in equipment, our royal navy are ready to react immediately to these events”

    Instead we got radio silence for a fair while from government and then a panicked response once they started receiving slack from the media.

    Its great that we had a ship in the area, but i suspect that decision was from the navy / mod (good on whoever it was), whilst the decision to actually do something with the ships has to come from Government, which appears to have taken time.

    • Steve – Mounts Bay is an MoD owned ship. It is controlled directly by the Government. From which I would assume it was Government action pre-empting the hurricanes to have immediate help and equipment available with skilled assessors then able to tell the UK Government what is actually needed.
      I am really not sure why the politics around this from certain media and other quarters.

      • From my perspective the MOD is not the government, it is a branch of the civil service, since they can’t make these decisions independently, they need governmental (PM) sign off.

        Forget the bay for a second and instead look at the c17. They took a long time before it was in the air, and the reason stated was because they were assessing what was needed on the ground. Seriously!

        Let’s play armature disaster relief first responders. A hurricane has hit a populated area. What is the first thing they are going to need every time, food and accommodation and some troops/medical staff to sort it? What was on the first c17 out food and accommodation and some troops. I know nothing about disaster relief, but this seems insanely logical to me.

        Ok you could argue there could be other supplies needed more urgently, but we have multiple planes, get the first one in the air as soon as humanly possible, with basic emergency supplies and then follow it up with additional planes once the situation on the ground has been properly assessed.

        I don’t know what the hangup was, but i have images of the video of Bush when he heard about 9/11 and sitting there not reacting at all and endless governmental committees discussion how best to spin the news story and what the minimum reaction they could get away wtih.

        • Access the damage to the islands facilities like the naval port and airport first. What good is sending a C17 if it cannot land on the island. Will it hover around with unlimited fuel until the airfield is cleared?

  8. Apparently the French response was so superb and are moving so quickly they had to put in a request to the UK to help them get relief supplies out to the Caribbean ….. Step up RAF the same RAF C-17s that carried French equipment to Africa …

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