RFA Mounts Bay completes ten-day hurricane aid mission

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Auxiliary Fleet

More than 6,000 people have been helped by British sailors, soldiers, marines and fliers during the UK’s ten-day mercy mission to the hurricane-hit Bahamas.

RFA Mounts Bay – the first ship from any nation to arrive on the scene in the wake of devastating Hurricane Dorian – has left the islands, her efforts complete.

As she departs, survey ship HMS Protector – on her way to the frozen wastes of Antarctica – sails for Nassau to deliver additional aid to Bahamians.

Mounts Bay, which is on stand-by to assist in the Caribbean throughout the hurricane season, arrived at Great Abaco – the main island in a chain in the northern Bahamas – in the wake of the catastrophic Category 5 storm.

More than ten days after the hurricane steamrollered the archipelago, the true scale of the damage and death toll is still unfolding.

The amphibious support vessel’s personnel – which includes people from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Engineers and Royal Logistics Corps – has played a vital role in enabling support to reach some of the worst hit areas.

During the past ten days, the work has been unrelenting and Mounts Bay has now distributed all of her stores, which included 3,000 ration packs, nearly 100 tonnes of water, over 900 emergency shelter kits, and 1,000 hygiene kits.

Mounts Bay has ensured communities on Great Abaco have had access to the most basic needs such as food, water, and shelter in the immediate aftermath of the worst storm the islands have ever seen – thanks in no small part to the ship’s Wildcat helicopter, which not only flew reconnaissance flights to assess damage but located isolated communities in outlying islands in urgent need.

Commanding Officer Captain Rob Anders RFA said his team had helped at least 6,000 people spread across three main communities – Foxtown, Marsh Harbour and Cooperstown – while the Wildcat flew four islanders directly to hospital.

Ten days after the ship arrived, there is still a massive amount of clear-up work to do – thousands of Bahamians are calmly awaiting evacuation to escape both the devastation and threat of diseases.

A Dutch taskforce has now moved into the area as Mounts Bay heads to replenish aid stores and fuel in Port Everglades, Florida. HMS Protector, meanwhile, is about to deliver 23 tonnes of Bermudian aid to capital Nassau.

Following her stop in Florida, Mounts Bay will return to the Caribbean region and continue on stand-by, ready to support more than 200,000 British citizens living in overseas territories for the duration of the hurricane season.

While in the Bahamas, Mounts Bay worked closely with disaster relief experts from the Department of International Development and a Foreign Office consular team in Nassau.

The UK has committed up to £1.5 million towards the immediate humanitarian response. This funding has enabled the delivery of critical aid supplies and supported the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency in its work to coordinate the international response.

DFID humanitarian experts remain in the Bahamas. This is part of DFID’s ongoing support to the local authorities to help get aid to those in need and support the co-ordination of the international response.

Mounts Bay has set the important ground work for the Bahamian government, other nations such as United States, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Turks & Cacaos Islands, and international aid agencies to continue providing relief.

I would like to thank RFA Mounts Bay and her crew for their tireless work. Their dedication to providing immediate and life-saving support to the Bahamian people has laid the vital ground work for other nations to join the relief effort.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace