Royal Navy disaster team sharpens skills

HMS Protector
HMS Protector
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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SENDING the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship to the Caribbean might seem slightly strange.

But the ship and her crew are carrying out a vital role helping British overseas territories and preparing for any emergencies during hurricane season.

The Portsmouth-based ice ship has taken on a specialist humanitarian assistance team, who are carrying out training exercises and strengthening the navy’s ties to the community of the British Virgin Islands.

They have been providing engineering expertise and manpower for a number of community projects.

The sailors, marines and army engineers helped out at St George’s School on Tortola with an extensive repainting project.

Another group helped the National Parks Trust there by replacing the steps leading to the top of Sage Mountain, reopening an entire section there.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Navy said: ‘A specialist team on board the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship has been helping the local community on the British Virgin Islands with a range of longstanding projects.

‘The team, who joined Protector to augment the ship’s company in the event of a large-scale disaster in the Caribbean region have also held a series of training serials to prepare for any eventuality.

‘The personnel, along with their equipment, landed on Long Bay beach to practise the ship’s response to a hurricane or other natural disaster.’

Before the ship moves on from the area, the team will also help the Rotary Club with DIY tasks on a retirement home on Jost van Dyke Islands.

They will also carry out work on the botanical gardens in Road Town.

The team has already been active on other Caribbean islands, having helped improve a home for underprivileged girls in Antigua.

HMS Protector left Portsmouth in October last year and will be operating in the Antarctic until May 2015.

The ship is due to continue with her main role in the icy waters of Antarctica in October.

The ship conducts Antarctic patrols and surveys on behalf of the Foreign and

Commonwealth Office and Hydrographic Office and provides logistic support to the British Antarctic Survey.

HMS Protector continues her hydrographic surveying of the waters around Tortola for another three weeks.