International Development Secretary visits HMS Ocean

International Development Secretary Priti Patel has visited HMS Ocean, who is deployed in the Caribbean in the Wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, has been anchored off Road Town, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands for two days rendering Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to the Islands following hurricanes Irma and Maria.

HMS Ocean deployed over 300 sailors and marines ashore in the past two days and conveyed over 100 pallets of aid ashore by helicopter and landing craft. Today will see the tempo of relief activity further increased as onboard teams benefit from the extensive reconnoitre of the islands that OCEAN conducted by sea and by air upon arrival on 22 September.

The Secretary of State for International Development, The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, visited HMS Ocean as part of a two-day visit to British Overseas Territories in the hurricane stricken region. During her visit, the Secretary of State witnessed first hand the role that the Fleet Flagship is playing in the overall Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation and took the opportunity to thank the Ship’s Company for their ongoing work to assist the inhabitants of the British Virgin Islands in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Secretary of State was shown the significant amount of Ministry of Defence emergency relief and DFID aid stores held in the Ship’s hangar and received an operational brief detailing how the Ship has been planning and executing the delivery of aid and skilled personnel; she saw many of the enabling capabilities within Ocean including mechanical and electrical engineering, medical, aviation and communications expertise.

So far, HMS Ocean has cleared wreckage from harbours, re-floated sunken barges, recovered submerged vehicles and the repaired electrical generators – not to mention the distribution of tonnes of stores including 900 hygiene kits, 130,000 sterilising tablets and 3 pickup trucks. This significant heavy lift was made possible by landing craft and a Tailored Air Group of 9 helicopters including Wildcat and Merlin Mk 3 helicopters from 845 and 847 Naval Air Squadrons as well as Chinooks from the 18 Squadron Royal Air Force.

It was a great honour to welcome the Secretary of State for International Development onboard the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship. HMS Ocean is fully exploiting her significant capabilities to bolster the major UK effort to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the Caribbean region

Captain Robert Pedre

The Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said:

It was a great honour to welcome the Secretary of State for International Development onboard the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship. HMS OCEAN is fully exploiting her significant capabilities to bolster the major UK effort to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the Caribbean region; we bring tonnes of aid, significant air and surface lift capacity and hundreds of highly skilled personnel including engineers, logisticians and medical professionals drawn from all three Services.  My Ship‘s Company and embarked forces are highly trained and are making a real difference.

HMS Ocean’s short notice deployment to the Caribbean is a demonstration of the UK Government’s significant and ongoing commitment to ensure the stability and safety of the British Overseas Territories and their inhabitants. At present there are over 2000 UK military personnel deployed to Op RUMAN including RFA Mounts Bay, which was pre-positioned to the region in preparation for the Hurricane season.