Royal Navy heads for disaster relief operations in Honduras

The Royal Navy is responding to a request to assist disaster relief efforts in Honduras after Tropical Storm Eta swept through the Central American nation.

RFA Argus has been in the Caribbean since April ready to assist British Overseas Territories and communities in the region in the event of a storm hitting.

The support ship is now off Honduras’ north east coast to support ongoing aid operations led by the United States.

Argus’ spacious flight deck will be used as a ‘lily pad’ by US military aircraft to sustain relief missions, while the ship’s Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will be prepared to carry out surveys of the damage and fly aid to isolated areas if required. 

Eta weakened from a category four storm to a tropical storm as it hit Honduras after it devastated Nicaragua.

Despite that, the brutal storm left a trail of destruction and millions of Hondurans displaced, areas flooded, and homes destroyed. 

Royal Navy Commander Kate Muir, the head of the UK Task Group in the Caribbean, said: “RFA Argus and embarked Royal Navy personnel will support US helicopters, conduct aerial surveys of hurricane damage and fly emergency relief stores to remote areas that have been cut off by landslides. There is another storm coming, so it’s imperative we act quickly.”

RFA Argus’ commanding officer, Captain Kevin Rimell of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, said: “Following a spate of recent counter narcotics successes, RFA Argus has been requested to assist US military forces currently providing aid to Honduras. 

“With a platform of this size and capability and with our own aviation assets, RFA Argus is an ideal unit to assist at this difficult time. We are currently proceeding at best speed towards the area of operations conducting on board preparations as my team re-role to support the US relief efforts in Honduras.”

Relief efforts have been ongoing by the United States with Argus answering the call to assist.

The support ship is well equipped to deal with crises such as these, with her versatile crew of sailors, commandos, pilots, air crew, soldiers and engineers trained to deliver disaster relief at a moment’s notice.

Alongside HMS Medway, who remains on task, Argus has been at the centre of a Royal Navy task group in the Caribbean, which is there for hurricane season but also to carry out counter-narcotics operations.

Medway will stay in the Caribbean as Argus carries out tasks in Honduras. 

Argus carries an air group of helicopters and personnel from 845, 815 and 1700 Naval Air Squadron. Three Commando Merlin helicopters and a Wildcat can carry out surveillance to help the US conduct search and rescue, and they might be used to deliver aid to devastated areas.

There is no move to put personnel ashore, but also embarked are Royal Marines of 47 Commando and a Crisis Response Troop from 24 Commando Royal Engineers who have trained this year in British Overseas Territories to repair damaged infrastructure, deliver aid and make-safe routes ashore. They may be called on to advise US operations.

RFA Argus and embarked Royal Navy personnel will support US helicopters, conduct aerial survey of hurricane damage and fly emergency relief stores to remote areas that have been cut off by landslides. There is another storm coming, so it’s imperative we act quickly.

Commander Kate Muir