Royal Navy puts its disaster relief skills into action during training drill on devastated Caribbean island

A TEAM of Royal Navy specialists from Portsmouth have carried out a three-day disaster relief exercise on a ravaged island in the Caribbean.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 3:54 pm

A team from patrol ship HMS Medway joined forces with RFA Wave Knight, soldiers, Royal Marines and a Wildcat helicopter for the three-day test on the island of Montserrat.

Working with the island’s disaster management agency, the task group landed a troop of commando engineers on the edge of the Montserrat’s volcanic zone.

The navy task force stayed just off the coast throughout the exercise, while troops ashore practised methods of re-opening roads after a disaster.

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Portsmouth-based offshore patrol ship HMS Medway off Montserrat. Photo: Royal Navy.

Montserrat is no stranger todisaster – two-thirds of the island are still out-of-bounds following volcanic eruptions a quarter of a century ago.

While a terrible tragedy for the local people, the ruined towns in the restricted zone are now the perfect area to carry out realistic training drills.

‘The island is beautiful, of course, but as a training area it’s brilliant. We were able to photograph damaged areas, as part of the exercise, but also to get photos of important buildings in the north of the island. These will help us understand the situation more quickly if a hurricane does hit Montserrat,’ said Wildcat pilot Lieutenant Commander Eifion Parri.

The task group carries specialist equipment, emergency supplies and 166 highly-trained men and women, including a dedicated humanitarian aid/disaster relief team of commando engineers from the Army’s 24 Commando.

Having operated together in the Caribbean over the past four weeks the group has been honing its skills to support both UK overseas territories and other islands across the Caribbean.

Commander Brian Trim, who heads up the naval task group in the region, said: ‘I enormously grateful to the people of Montserrat for inviting us to train on their island. Training in the restricted zone was an ideal way to keep our skills sharp, while also keeping Covid-safe.’

Portsmouth-based patrol ship HMS Medway provides the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Caribbean and is now into her second storm season, while tanker Wave Knight picks up where RFA Argus left off at the end of last year.

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