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HMS Mersey helps sanctuary in Trinidad

HMS Mersey helps sanctuary in Trinidad
5 April 2016
A slice of paradise is now twice as nice after sailors from HMS Mersey volunteered to smarten up a Caribbean wildlife sanctuary.

Five sailors offered to spend the day helping the team at the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, which has been helping to preserve the habitat of the island’s bird populace for the past 50 years.

While their shipmates on the patrol vessel were engaged in the capital Port of Spain, the volunteers headed a couple of dozen miles to the wetlands on Trinidad’s west coast.

The sailors got stuck in painting the trust’s offices and buildings, and repaired fences and cages which house many of the island’s vibrant indigenous birds and reptiles.

It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to come here and help contribute to the upkeep of Trinidad’s beautiful wetlands and diverse animal population.

Sub Lieutenant Becky Stanley

The reward for the sailors’ efforts? Free rein to wander around the site and take in the wetlands’ unique beauty, including getting up close to the national bird, the scarlet ibis (a bright-red ibis).

“It’s really great to be invited to see a side of Trinidad we otherwise would have been unlikely to at the Wildfowl Trust,” said Able Seaman  Rebecca Lowe.

Sub Lieutenant Becky Stanley, a junior officer under training aboard Mersey, added: “It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to come here and help contribute to the upkeep of Trinidad’s beautiful wetlands and diverse animal population.

“The work that all the members and volunteers do at Pointe-a-Pierre is a testament to their commitment to environmental conservation and a lesson we can all learn.”

Mersey’s engineers shared their expertise and maintenance tips with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, who’ve just bought six new vessels.

Mersey’s footballers continued their losing streak on this Caribbean deployment (not one win yet) with an 8-5 defeat to the coast guard on the five-a-side pitch. The losers – and their shipmates – were still treated to a trip to Trinidad’s best beach.

On a more formal level, Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Richard Hewitt hosted the Deputy High Commissioner Fiona Grant and the Trinidad and Tobago National Crime Association representative, Jules Davies, to discuss his ship’s work tackling drug running in the region.

On sailing from Port of Spain, Mersey conducted training off Trinidad’s north coast with two Augusta Westland 139 helicopters from the local coast guard.

Mersey only has a winching deck – large enough for a helicopter to lift or lower sailors or equipment, but too small to land on.

It was put to use as three sailors were lifted up and treated to a few fly-bys of Mersey before being safely lowered back aboard.

“As a member of the aviation team on-board, it was extremely valuable to have our skills refreshed with a high quality air guard that has provided great training for the ship’s company and me,” said Lt William Dewing, the helicopter signals officer.

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