Illustrious aids the Philippines

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MORE help has arrived in the Philippines in the shape of Portsmouth-based HMS Illustrious.

Her crew are taking over from Portsmouth-based Type 45 HMS Daring, which has been distributing aid and helping villagers in remote area on the islands for the last week.

It comes as a major part of the UK’s aid effort after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the islands earlier this month.

Illustrious, a helicopter and commando carrier, has brought seven helicopters to unblock traffic bottlenecks, the capability to provide drinking water and 500 tons of aid.

She was 6,000 nautical miles away on counter-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa when she was re-tasked to help.

Her commanding officer Captain Mike Utley said: ‘The speed at which we have reorganised ourselves from counter-piracy operations to humanitarian relief in a completely different part of the world is testament to the flexibility of the Royal Navy and the enthusiasm and dedication of my ship’s company.

‘We are fully prepared to be able to render whatever assistance is required to allow the people so very badly affected by Typhoon Haiyan to begin the process of recovery.’

Illustrious has brought 12,500 blankets, 20,000 candles, 20,000 candles, 30,000 rice bags, 9,800 tins of sardines, 8,100 tins of vegetables, 17,000 shelter kits, 1,000 jerry cans and 1,900 water carriers.

Daring, which has visited over 70 islands, will now sail on to Tokyo, in Japan, to continue with her deployment.

Her crew have provided 498 shelter kits, 7.5 tonnes of drinking water, 223 kitchen sets among other aid.

Sailors have also built part of a well and given medical aid.

Commanding officer of HMS Daring, Commander Angus Essenhigh, said it had been a privilege to help people in the Philippines.

He said: ‘I am incredibly proud of my ship’s company – without their commitment, drive and determination to help we would not have achieved half of what we set out to do.

‘There are communities on islands that had been cut off from help since the typhoon that now have repaired fishing boats so they can recover their livelihoods, tarpaulins to give them shelter as they rebuild their homes and fresh, clean drinking water.

‘It has been a privilege to assist the people of the Philippines and my ship’s company can be rightly pleased with the contribution HMS Daring has made, the rapid adaptability of a Royal Navy ship and her crew has once again been proven.

‘I’m sure HMS Illustrious will continue that good work on behalf of the Royal Navy, the British public and the UK government.’

The Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, added: ‘The UK has now given more than £55 million support to the people of the Philippines to help them through this crisis.

‘We will stay the course with the Philippines over the coming months and years as it rebuilds the shattered cities, towns and villages of the central islands.’