Royal Navy sailors have spoken of how their training and equipment sets them up for disaster relief operations.
It comes as two Portsmouth-based ships are steaming towards the island country to offer humanitarian aid after Typhoon Haiyan.
Musicians switch roles to lend a helping hand
HMS Daring has 14 Royal Marines musicians on board who have been showcasing their world-class musical skills on the ship’s global deployment.
But while the members of the Royal Marines Band are famous for their ceremonial role, they also have a key job to do in disaster relief.
They are all trained in first aid and will be going ashore to help wherever they can.
Major Rich Long, of the Royal Marines Band Service, said: ‘This is exactly what they are trained for. They are all young, talented people who are ready and prepared to carry out these roles.
‘I’m sure they are looking forward to being able to contribute and make a difference.’
Petty Officer (Medic) David Beardwood, who serves on board HMS Defender, added: ‘Those on board HMS Daring will be taking medicine ashore to help those who need it and working with agencies like the Red Cross.’
Disaster relief an important role
FOR Royal Navy sailors, training in disaster relief is vital.
Their ships could be deployed anywhere and anytime in the world.
Few could have predicted the sudden need for Royal Navy forces to be deployed in a military intervention against Libya, which saw several warships sent to fend off Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and rescue British citizens.
But it’s not only battles the ship needs to be ready for — disaster relief and humanitarian aid are just as important.
Lieutenant Commander John Barry is one of the principal trainers for training ships and their crews in disaster relief situations.
He told The News: ‘All ships are put through operational sea training and as part of there is a disaster relief exercise.
‘They have to deal with a range of things from fires and floods and rescuing people.
‘Hopefully quite a lot of that will help those on Daring. The challenge they face is how to fit in their efforts with those which have already begun.’
Sailors are put through their paces in a fictional island village which sits behind the walls of a naval base in Plymouth.
Helicopter will help build a picture of the devastation
HMS Daring comes equipped with a Lynx helicopter, a potent weapon in maritime attack.
But the aircraft is also a useful tool in disaster relief operations.
Those on board can scout the land far and wide, providing a picture of the devastation in ways the ship cannot.
The helicopters can also deliver stores, carry out search and rescue operations using their on board winch, and deliver clean water.
Lieutenant Commander Matt Boulind is a Lynx helicopter observer.
Speaking on board HMS Defender in Portsmouth, he said: ‘The Lynx is a maritime attack helicopter but it brings an awful lot to the disaster relief effort by acting as the eyes and ears of the ship, going further than the ship can.
‘It can help bring a much bigger picture of the devastation, and can also be used to transfer stores and carry out search and rescue operations if needed.
‘The engineers on board Daring right now will be doing everything they can to have the helicopter prepared and the pilots and observers will be working out what kind of operations they will need to carry out and how to do them.’