RFA Mounts Bay leaves mark on Caribbean island

Conservation work was top of the agenda for the crew of RFA Mounts Bay as the ship spent three weeks in Curacao in the Dutch Antilles.

The maintenance period gave personnel the chance to visit key sites on the island, including the Commonwealth War Graves.

The embarked Crisis Response Troop from 24 Commando Royal Engineers deployed to Sea Turtle Conservation Curacao HQ over the course of a week.

The troop helped renovate and improve the headquarters of the conservation group by stripping and constructing a small section of roof, constructing a concrete block wall including digging foundations, clearing over grown foliage from around the building and painting the entire of the exterior of the building, complete with themed wall art.

This will be where their new plastic recycling centre will run from which will allow them to effectively recycle much of the plastic collected on the beaches of the Caribbean island.

Personnel from RFA Mounts Bay, organised by Pte Guthrie RLC, visited Roodeweg Cemetery in Willemstad to tend to the Commonwealth War Graves.

There are six servicemen buried within the cemetery; four from the British Army, one from the Royal Navy and one from the Merchant Navy.

Each of these servicemen died in the Southern Caribbean during the Second World War. Representatives from each service onboard RFA Mounts Bay assisted in the cleaning and tidying of the grave site, prior to taking part in a wreath laying ceremony.

It was a real honour to get involved in paying my respects to the Commonwealth War Graves in Curacao, alongside the RLC and Royal Navy. In particular was the grave of Frank Lench, a Seaman in the Merchant Navy who died at the age of 18. Being of the same age it was a particularly touching experience to remember the sacrifices made by that generation.

Samuel Marsh RFA Officer Cadet

Lt Jamie Martin, OC RLC said: “The diversity of servicemen buried at the Commonwealth War Graves in Willemstad rather well reflects the diversity of personnel currently serving onboard RFA Mounts Bay. This experience proved a great opportunity for personnel from across all services to come together and pay their respects.”

Following the wreath laying, they then visited the memorial to British service personnel buried on Curacao and Aruba in the Military Cemetery in Willemstad.

Here they met the British Consul, Julie Tidey and the Chairman of the Dutch Military Cemetery to pay their respects and learn about some of the recent military history of Curacao.

RFA MOUNTS BAY has now departed Curacao and is continuing with her Atlantic Patrol Task (North) duties, remaining ready to respond to any and all eventualities in the Caribbean area.

Captain Rob Anders RFA said “The visit to Curacao was an excellent opportunity for the ship’s company to help out the local communities and meet up with our Dutch Colleagues and discuss how we can operate together.

“The crew had some well-deserved downtime after a very busy programme, routine maintenance was completed and RFA Mounts Bay is well placed to support the Islands over the forthcoming season.