Royal Marines assist humanitarian efforts in Caribbean

Royal Marines of 40 Commando are on the ground in the Caribbean to help those affected by Hurricane Irma.

Marines from Alpha Company continue their work in Tortola, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, and one of the worst-affected areas after the Category 5 storm struck. It is part of a concerted effort by all three of Britain’s armed forces to help British citizens in the wake of devastating Hurricane Irma.

Royal Marines have conducted many patrols across the island to reassure the local people of their commitment and support.

The police station has become the home and operating base for Alpha Company, providing an excellent base to work from and support the local officers on joint patrols and other policing tasks.

The station was physically damaged during hurricane Irma and work has begun to repair the infrastructure that remains. This includes moving a collapsed radio mast within the police station which has been blocking crucial access.

From getting orders that we were heading to the Caribbean to actually working to help these people has been a quick turnaround – its rewarding stuff.

Marine Waite

Marine Waite, who is on the ground with Alpha Company, said: “From getting orders that we were heading to the Caribbean to actually working to help these people has been a quick turnaround – its rewarding stuff”.

The Taunton-based marines were expecting to head to the Mediterranean this week on exercises, but as the lead commando group were instead activated on Thursday. They flew on a Royal Air Force transporter by 10am on Friday, and were in the Caribbean by the day's end.

The commandos are ready to distribute humanitarian aid and to help prepare the island before Hurricane Jose moves through the region.

Meanwhile amphibious support ship RFA Mounts Bay, continues to be heavily engaged in the operation. On Saturday alone, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter of 815 Naval Air Squadron – Flight Commander Lt Amy Gilmore, pilot Lt Oliver Bundock and Observer Lee Colthart – delivered ten tonnes of water and five tonnes of supplies – medical stores especially – to Tortola.

Locals turned out in force to assist the helicopter crew in offloading the medical supplies, which included vital vaccines, as quickly as possible, with Mounts Bay’s medical officer Surg Lt Oliver Perigo also on hand to assist.

In addition, 24 Commando Royal Engineers based on Mounts Bay have the skills and equipment to repair infrastructure and re-open damaged routes, as they did in Anguilla by restoring power to the hospital.

The island of Barbados is acting as the hub for Op Ruman – the codename for the UK military relief effort. In the first 36 hours, the RAF’s 38 Expeditionary Air Wing conducted 11 flights around the region, moving more than 500 passengers and more than 30 tonnes of supplies.