HMS Daring begins aerial surveys of remote Philippine islands

HMS Daring's Lynx helicopter
HMS Daring's Lynx helicopter

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Sailors on board Portsmouth-based HMS Daring have begun surveying outlying areas of the Philippines in a bid to provide aid to people who may have been cut off since the typhoon.

The Lynx Mark 8 from 815 Royal Naval Air Squadron is to fly for up to eight hours today with regular trips back to refuel and provide aerial photographs of the ground below.

First to be examined was Palawan island and then all the associated islands north until Linapacan and the Linapacan Strait.

The Lynx flew at 500ft dipping up and down as they closely surveyed the ground below.

No storm damage was spotted during the first recce – with the helicopter due to take off again to look at further islands north west of the ships’ position in the Sulu Sea.

Flight Commander Joe Harper said: ‘There is no evidence of destruction or damage up to the Linapacan Strait as far as the typhoon is concerned.

‘We are due to launch again to examine other islands further north.

‘It is good news for those areas that they have escaped the devastation seen elsewhere and it means we can concentrate on finding others who need assistance.’

As the ship continues north, Flt Cdr Harper and pilot Lieutenant Hamish Walker will next fly the Lynx east of Daring and over Cuyo, Culion and Busuanga island before later turning their attention to the larger populations of Negros and Panay.

It is not yet known how any of these areas have been affected as there has been no contact from them since the typhoon struck.

The commanding officer of HMS Daring, Commander Angus Essenhigh, said: ‘It is imperative we survey these remote areas as we do not believe they have received any assistance to date.

‘If the imagery comes back and demonstrates that there are people there in desperate need of help then we will be first on the scene and can offer them a significant amount of support.’

The Portsmouth-based warship, which is on a nine-month around the world deployment, has more than 200 personnel on board, all of whom are trained in humanitarian disaster operations.

As well as casualty search teams and a large number of first aiders, HMS Daring also carries a Royal Navy chaplain, dentist, doctor, and engineers in a number of specialisations as well as boat and air crews.

The ship holds 700 ration packs, 550 litres of bottled water and can provide 100,000 litres of drinkable water within 24 hours, generators, firefighting equipment, thermal imaging cameras and an emergency relief pack containing essentials such as generators, floodlighting and rescue equipment.