SHARE

RFA Mounts Bay, the North Atlantic patrol vessel, has been deployed to the Turks and Caicos Islands at short notice following a request from the islands Governor to address recent increase in illegal arrivals by Haitian sloops to the British territory. 

The illegal sloops are bringing hundreds of migrants from neighbouring islands and have already stretched local law enforcement resources to breaking point. Local media reported that there were three such landings last week, the latest reported on Thursday March 15 when a sloop carrying approximately thirty individuals unloaded at the North West Point area of Providenciales. At least six of those arrivals have been detained and are awaiting processing, while the rest are believed to be at large.

Since January the islands’ authorities have already deported 290 individuals found to have illegally arrived in the territory, many of whom had found work in bars and construction sites. One reason for the increase in undetected arrivals has been the failure of the islands’ radar system, though funding has now been sourced from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to facilitate repairs.

RFA Mounts Bay will arrive in territorial waters on the afternoon of March 19th and will work alongside local law enforcement authorities, and regional partners, to conduct maritime and aerial surveillance and interdiction operations. It is hoped that the presence of the vessel will serve as a deterrence and that interdiction operations may take out key figures in the people smuggling operations.

Announcing the deployment to the local press the Acting Governor, Anya Williams, said she was “grateful that the UK government swiftly responding to our request to deploy FA Mounts Bay to the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

“The Royal Navy [RFA] ship will provide invaluable support to the [Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force] to help detect and interdict the illegal sloops heading to TCI while we focus on our internal operations. I have been in contact with the Commanding Officer of RFA Mounts Bay, Captain David Buck, to welcome him and his crew to the Turks and Caicos Islands and to thank them for swiftly deploying to TCI. I, along with the Commissioner of Police, will be meeting Captain Buck tomorrow to further discuss the ship’s operations here.”

RFA Mounts Bay has had a busy deployment since taking up the Atlantic Patrol Tasking – North having been involved in the initial and ongoing response to Hurricane Irma last year which devastated several British territories, on top of its regular constabulary duties.

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is exactly why we should have a dozen B2 OPVs and accompanying UAVs.

    There will be much more of these type of problems, not less.

  2. RFA Tidesurge (3rd new tanker) has been anchored at St Johns, Antigua, for a week and so wasn’t that far away. She could have gone there and ‘shown the flag’ as well …

    Not sure why she was at Antigua for that long on her delivery voyage especially after anchoring south of Panama for a few days.

  3. Agreed but would say we need T31 for this – it is clearly over spec’d for this particular role, but I suspect its an either/or choice of hulls and I would prefer a fleet of 25 T31’s rather than a mix.

    I am all for a T26 fleet (say 14) that supersedes T45 and then a single large fleet of T31’s that replaces virtually all other surface hulls in this size.

    Whilst I am warming to the River B2’s – I have a strong preference fro standardisation and getting assets that can warfight if needs be.

    • The government isn’t sending Mounts Bay. It is already in the region. The Bay class are versatile vessels. Withdrawing her and sending a river class instead makes no sense whatsoever.

      • ‘The Royal Navy [RFA] ship will provide invaluable support to the [Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force] to help detect and interdict the illegal sloops heading to TCI while we focus on our internal operations.”

        Detect and interdict. That’s literally the mission statement of an OPV like the River class. I wasn’t arguing on withdrawing her, only that an OPV would be able to do the same job in her place for a fraction of the cost. Sledgehammer and nut comes to mind

        • I agree that the Batch 2 Rivers can useful in the role of interdicting illegal sloops and other constabulary roles, and no doubt they will be in the future.
          But this was a request for help from a British Overseas Territory made at short notice and the nearest UK asset by far was Mounts Bay, so why wouldn’t they deploy her ?
          Are they going to say to the Turks and Caicos government we would like to help but the only vessel we have to hand is a bit big so we aren’t going to bother ?

  4. I’d say a RFA type vessel acting as a mother ship with possibly both RM and Helicopters embarked is ideal for this sort of thing, maybe UAV in the future too.

  5. There always used to be a West Indies Guardship. Either a frigate or destroyer, it was usually a 3-6 month deployment. Must admit it was usually a good trip.

  6. An lsd is capable of doing this role but an opv isn’t capable of doing the lsd role. I’d have rather kept the lsd we sold off and have too many so that when we have the aircraft carriers fully operational and it comes to taking action we could actually show with these and the Albions that as well as kicking down the door we can go in as well. If the lsds have to do patrol or other work until we need them so be it.

    • You’re a few years too late in stating the fact that we should’ve kept the 4th ship we sold to the Aussies…..7 years a go.

  7. I know and of course thats true but I guess my point is to keep the ones we have busy as well as hopefully some doing training or operations with Marines.
    Also due to the fact we have large aircraft carriers, we may need to revisit the capability of what we can deliver after we use them and to me investment in amphibious capability should be considered rather than the reverse which is currently suggested by HMG

  8. The RN needs about six or eight general purpose ships that can serve as patrol ships, small landing ships, disaster relief, and “mother ships”. I think Italy has something like this planned or just going into service. Such a ship could carry about 4 ASW helicopters to stretch RN capabilities in that area.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here