Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster visited the Caribbean this week to reassure local governments of the UK’s support, prior to the 2018 hurricane season. 

“No matter what the elements throw at our Overseas Territories this year, we will be there to help them every step of the way throughout 2018 and beyond”

Mark Lancaster MP

Last year’s hurricane season was the costliest on record, with over $280bn in damage. The UK responded to both hurricanes Irma and Maria, deploying over 2,000 personnel, and delivering 109 tonnes of aid.

Colorado State University are currently predicting 4 hurricanes this year, as well as 1 ‘major hurricane’.

RFA Mounts Bay will act as the hub of the UK’s response. She’s been in the area since last year and isn’t scheduled to leave until 2020. Mounts Bay will continue to assist with rebuilding post-Irma, as well as providing aid in the aftermath of coming hurricanes.

Lancaster was able to speak to island governors and residents about their needs as they continue to recover from last year’s hurricanes. It is understood that Mounts Bay will assist the British Overseas Territories first in the aftermath of a hurricane, before supporting other local governments.

A Wildcat HMA2 is on board Mounts Bay, and will be operating in the region for the first time this year. The Wildcat went through extreme high temperature trials in the Persian Gulf back in 2015.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Pity a DoID vessel cannot be procured for this so the few Amphibious assets we have can be used in their primary role?

    With another Bay in the Gulf that leaves but 1 available, assuming that vessel is not in refit?

    Keeps them from being cut I suppose!

    Very un PC scrapping a vessel helping people.

    • Good idea, spreads the cost appropriately but isn’t it also the security presence, given we’re only talking constabulary duties. Or are other ships tasked for this?

        • But perhaps this type is better suited to patrol duties in the West Indies. 13000 + tons versus 2000 tons, can carry lots of supplies and personnel. The main duty besides natural disaster relief is drug interdiction especially those little semi-submersibles. Put a 57 or 76 mm gun on the ship, and build a hanger. Or use the foreign aid budget to build a 15,000 ton ship with a through flight deck, medical facilities, and room for a company or so of troops.

          • DFIF is not responsible for the overseas territory of the UK. Its a national security issue, which falls within the MOD remit. Now, if assistance is provided to a foreign government then it would be DFID.

    • Pity the DoID doesn’t pay for the procurement and running costs of at least one RFA support vessel like Mounts Bay on a permanent basis…

  2. Rotterdam has hangar space for 6 Lynx sized cabs.

    If only MoD (N) had just copied Enforcer design instead of wasting time with moving the uptakes etc.

  3. Shows how practical these ships are, just a shame they don’t have a permanent hangar for the Wildcat or a Merlin.

  4. I truly hope the DoID will be picking up the tab for this… goodness knows they have more than enough money!

    Not to moan and complain but it STILL boggles my mind that with all the financial strain across various government depts (most notably the MoD), how the DoID budget is ring fenced to the tune of billions!!! What a totally irresponsible waste of resources. By all means have a DoID but it doesn’t need to be a third the size (and growing) of the defence budget!!!

    • It’s British territory isn’t it, like Tom said above it’s the MOD’s job to protect and assist it’s citizens if needed.

  5. NEXT TIME WE SEND MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF hurricane aid and relief AID TO NEVIS (NEE-VIS) we should remind them of the MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF TAX FRAUD, TAX EVASION and TAX AVOIDANCE etc. that the island perpetuates. The UK government is powerless to fight these abuses perpetuated through Nevis because of secrecy laws. Having said all that excuse the cap locks problem, but I add… The level of aid and response the UK provides to the islands in summer storm relief is a really good way of showing what out country stands for and the beliefs we have. Well done RN, RM. And yes the DoID does need to pay for this.

  6. I agree – DIFID should pay for 4-8 Karel doorman style vessels that they can use as humanitarian support and hospital ships and then when needed by our military in time of war we have a surge capability.

    We can easily utilise 4 of these as hospital/humanitarian ships each with 6 Merlins or 2 chinooks. Good for our NSS and industry and good for adding depth/contingency to our fleet.

    Not sure why we feel the need as a country we feel the need to hand out cash when we could be handing out food from our surplus crops, containerised homes and water sterlisation kits all made in the UK and delivered by our own helicopters and vessels

    Instead we give out cash, sheer madness

    • I agree with this. What are the reasons that this does not happen? Isn’t British aid more visible than British cash?

      Further more. As soon as free from the EU how about free trade deal with the Commonwealth? So third world farmers can sell their goods without the protectionist Single Market getting in the way.

      Both could be visible signs of a “Global Britain”

      • Spot on…five eyes nations + commonwealth countries is where the focus should be.
        Global Britain should start there.

    • I don’t think we give it out in £50 notes guys out the back of a truck haha

      Just joking i know what you mean.

      The reason most of it goes in cash to the UN, WHO etc is that there is no way we could distribute it around the world on our own, it goes to that many countries around the world there is no way we could do it, even with a dedicated fleet of 4-8 ships. It’s just not in any way feasible, distributing £13bn worth of aid by British helicopters and vessels? come on, the charities use thousands of people and trucks in different continents to distribute the aid for the UN etc.

      Plus only 15% of our bilateral aid goes on humanitarian assistance, the rest is long term development, health, education and government, it’s not all dishing out bags of rice.

      The problem I see is that 40% of the total aid budget is multilateral, so it goes to organisations like the UN that we don’t have a say on what it gets spent on, yes most of it is used for disaster relief and immunization and good causes, but millions on stopping smoking in the worlds second richest country, millions keeping houses cool in the summer in India, that is not aid or development, we should not be paying for that.

      The other 60% is bilateral aid so we agree with the receiving country what it’s being used for, and I don’t have a problem with that, especially as 7 of the top 10 receiving countries of bilateral aid are former parts of the Empire. And a portion of bilateral aid is soft loans to these countries so we get the money back eventually.

      I think it should be redistributed so 80% of the budget goes on bilateral aid and it should be negotiated, that if the UN, EU etc want a sum from the remaining 20% all parties have to agree on what exactly it is getting spent on.

      Bill Gates said that DfID is “widely recognized as one of the most effective, efficient, and innovative aid agencies in the world” so it is right that DfID should get to pick the projects and developments our money is used for.

      About the 0.7%, as I understand it although it is written into law, if we don’t spend the 0.7% there is no legal mechanism to take anyone to court over it, apparently what happens is the DfID secretary is summoned and asked to explain why it was not met, that is all.

      So in theory the PM could say, ‘look we are skint this year make it 0.5% and nothing would happen legally.

      Although a problem is that when we met that UN target of 0.7% there was a lot of fanfare from the UN and other multilateral organisations heaping praise on us, reducing it now would mean we would take a hit in our international standing.

      I have, in the past advocating reducing it to 0.5%, and in this current climate and the increasing problems we have domestically with housing, health, rising crime and councils going broke around the country, a reduction makes a lot of sense, but after reading the report on Britain getting back the number 1 global soft power spot and how international aid is a factor in the ranking I am not so sure anymore. I’m on the fence at the moment.

      • Actually sometimes we do hand it own in £50 notes.

        Ex colleague of mine worked for this dept (Eastern European) and she was shocked at the wastefulness of this particular dept.

        Let’s also not forget the African girl band that was being sponsored from this budget, nor the fiasco of who would (or wouldn’t pay) for a the tents from camp bastion going to turkey/Syria for refugees, or the endemic culture of rape and sexism in some of the charities receiving large swathes of this funding.

        Total lack of common sense – this whole dept should be disbanded and the money split between the Police, military and foreign office to improve our foreign corps back to what it used to be. The best in the world.

      • Btw

        I have no problem with the rest of your statement, we cant distribute that much on our own in country. But we can provide goods to this value.

        I think its a good thing to work with MSF, the gates foundation etc but we need to stop the waste and redirect it to the UK.

        This is a vanity project so Britain an say it is the only major country meeting this benchmark, but it just isn’t worth it in my opinion.

        No aid should go to a country with a military budget greater than its health or education budgets, as well. In fact it needs to be at least 50% less to qualify.

        • Do we hand it out in £50 notes? where?

          The African girl band was created by the Nike foundation that still sponsor them, they’re Ethiopian and were created to help promote Women’s rights in countries where violence to women is widespread, I actually think that’s better than most of the other things it gets spent on like air con in India and quitting smoking in China. But again I understand there will always be a bit of protest against things like this when all is not perfect at home.

          I agree some of these organisations have some horrible underbellies, even the UN going by recent reports of UN troops giving rations for sex in Africa, we should make more effort like I said to decide where the money gets spent, or give the majority of the amount to the WHO, that’s where we are world leaders in vaccinations, 2 million children got vaccinated from UK aid by the WHO in the last couple of years, and we don’t have the facility to give and coordinate these vaccinations ourselves so sometimes you have no other option to give to the multilateral organisations, lots of grey areas here.

          I think if you go down the lines of disbanding a department for wastage or mismanagement in the past or present, what government departments would actually be left, they have all been guilty of that, that’s just business.

          I think it’s easy to agree with the Mail, Express’s and Sun’s campaign on aid when it’s presented like it is, remember only bad news & outrage sells, the wastage is always a small part of the budget, unfortunately its in the millions sometimes tens of, and that is a lot of money to everyone but in the context of a £13bn budget its a small percentage.

          The other side to that campaign that does not get mentioned is the proven proof that international development aid is a factor in measurement of the soft power index, it boosts trade, boosts GDP growth in emerging markets that will benefit us, improves our international standing, as well as the obvious impact it has on children and the poor in countries that were part of the Empire and elsewhere.

          It’s a worldwide respected government department and I want it to stay but definite reform and more oversight is needed. And the 0.7% is an issue currently, the actual numbers as well, second biggest provider of aid behind the US, even if we dropped down to 0.4% i’m pretty sure we would still be in the top 5/10.

          Also a fleet of two BMT Salvas Utility Auxiliary Ship’s paid for out of the DfiD budget should not be a problem and should be looked into, they do everything, humanitarian relief, hospital facilities, fire fighting, submarine rescue, if we are going to spend the money, why not give them the best possible world leading platform to provide the relief.

          • All fair comments and you are of course right.

            I also believe this budget does a lot of good and do not want it totally obliterated. I do think however we should concentrate on medical and humanitarian aid only.

            I would also like to see 10 x £100m prizes out of this budget to solve the big ticket items (whatever they are deemed to be).

            I think your view around 0.4% is probably right with the remainder being diverted to the FO, Police and military equally.

            Thanks for keeping me honest – one of the reasons I love this forum.

  7. I’ll see you gents in a few months when the press is howling that we’ve ‘abandoned’the Caribbean territories’ and ‘done nothing to prepare’.

  8. Bar my ignorance – but wouldn’t it be better to have deployed a Merlin rather than a Wildcat? It can carry more people and disaster relief equipment and at the same time, also fulfil an anti-piracy role should the situation warrant it.

    Just by way of interest, do these ships carry drones? In the event of a hurricane, a drone(s) can cover more area and stay aloft longer to give Disaster Relief teams on board a better and clearer picture.

      • was thinking the same. a Chinook would be a lot more useful considering that we doing have a helicopter carrier in Ocean, to send to the region this time around.

        • Also considering the good PR that occurred last year and the dark clouds hanging over the albions, i would have thought this would be the perfect chance to put them in the spot light and send one there. Ok still no hanger for the helicopter, but at least they bring a lot of storage space for supplies.

        • I don’t believe they can leave a chinook on deck as it’s not proofed against salt water etc. I saw something recently on here calling for them to be maritime converted, that’s all I’m basing that comment off I’m afraid.

          Not sure about the Merlins mind you.

          • The Merlins are all fully marinised, the ex-RAF ones included. The Chinooks are not marinised but rely on increased maintenance and washing to minimise salt water corrosion.
            The RAF will do as they did last year if required using air transport to ferry a couple of Chinooks to the Caribbean by either A400 or C17 especially as Ocean won’t be available.

  9. I see Defender is back in service with 2 new gas turbines. Is this the long awaited fix to the power problem or a separate upgrade?

    • I don’t get why the constant referring back to this, there is 0% chance that the money would go to the MOD if the DOID budget was removed.

      There are plenty of wasteful government spending that could do with being cut, like so many levels of local government. I have a Parrish, town, county and British government and yet no English government, but there is a welsh, scottish and ni government.

      My list of wasteful spending within government would be very long.

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