RFA Mounts Bay displays impressive capability during assurance visit to Grand Cayman

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Auxiliary Fleet

Military trucks rolled onto the white sands of Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman as both local police and Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters hovered overhead in a show of capability from the Hurricane and Disaster Response (HADR) team on board RFA Mounts Bay.

Swimmers, sunbathers and holidaymakers looked on in amazement at the 16,000-ton RFA Mounts Bay moored off the beach, unloading RFA and military personnel, trucks and heavy equipment.

Grand Cayman was the first stop for RFA Mounts Bay during the dock landing ship’s deployment to the Caribbean.

Commanding Officer, Captain Chris Clarke RFA said, “The crew seek to fulfil a four-tiered mission in the region. The first and foremost is security and reassurance to U.K. Overseas Territories and the wider region. We’re also ready for contingent disaster relief in the case of tropical cyclones or if anything worse were to occur. We will also get involved in support of counter-narcotic operations over the year”.

Capt Clarke further added, “The final thing, which people forget, is we’re also always ready for contingent tasking around the world. If any conflict happens, we’re at five days’ notice to react to that event”.

The training exercise, which took place on Friday and Saturday of last week, was a simulation of how RFA Mounts Bay and her cross service team of RFA, RN, Royal Logistics Corps and Royal Engineer experts could respond after a major hurricane or disaster.

Lieutenant Oliver Fletcher of the Royal Engineers commented, “Seven Mile Beach would be a realistic access point for emergency crews in the event of a catastrophe that impacted the port in George Town”.

RFA Mounts Bay offloaded heavy equipment onto Governors Beach on Friday as police and RN helicopters hovered overhead.

Lt Fletcher continued, “The beach exercise demonstrated that RFA Mounts Bay could land heavy equipment and skilled personnel on Grand Cayman in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster. For humanitarian and disaster relief operations, we need to be able to get all our kit and equipment from sea to shore efficiently.

“With the capability that our engineers have, we can provide basic construction support. I also have available joiners, electricians, plumbers and plant operators, so we can fix storm-damaged buildings as well as clear rubble and debris in the aftermath of a hurricane”.

Depending on where the ship is located, it is equipped to respond to an order for assistance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office within 12 to 48 hours.

British Defence Attaché to the Caribbean, Lieutenant Colonel Anton Gash, said “The Cayman Islands is the ship’s first port of call in the region and this is a bespoke package we have put together from different elements; Royal Fleet Auxiliary with the ship and embarked Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter, the Royal Logistic Corps for the ability to come ashore on the beach and the Royal Engineers for the ability to then go inland and carry out the disaster response – the weekends exercise went like clockwork”.

He further commented, “Pound for pound, RFA Mounts Bay is probably the most capable disaster response vessel anywhere. If you were designing a ship to do this task in the Caribbean, you would come up with something that looks almost exactly like her”.

The crew seek to fulfil a four-tiered mission in the region. The first and foremost is security and reassurance to U.K. Overseas Territories and the wider region

Captain Chris Clarke RFA