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Wave Knights in shining armour as tanker crew help out in Anguilla

24 August 2016
With the Caribbean still largely devoid of tropical storms – despite the advent of hurricane season – the disaster relief team aboard RFA Wave Knight have continued community work on their island-hopping deployment.

Anguilla became the latest British Overseas Territory to benefit from voluntary efforts of the soldiers and marines especially embarked upon the tanker for humanitarian aid duties.

The W.I.S.E school, which provides an education for youngsters aged 12-17 who would otherwise struggle academically, needed some considerable TLC.

The tanker team set aside two days to install fans in classrooms – there’s no air conditioning in the building – removed a dangerous bannister leading to the main entrance, fitted catches to the wooden shutters on windows to prevent them slamming shut continuously and finally painted the walls, floors and ceilings, helped at times by some of the students.

I am delighted that my teams were able to use their skills to help improve capabilities on the island over such a wide range of areas.

Captain Nigel Budd RFA

The pupils, said Wave Knight’s communications officer Chris Marchant, “expressed overwhelming appreciation for us being there and said that it made them feel so special to have us doing these things for them.”

Anguilla is twice the size of Portsmouth but with a population of fewer than 15,000. Put simply, it would be overwhelmed should it bear the full force of a hurricane.

Two days of valuable exercises with the Anguilla Department of Disaster Management were held to test communications while island authorities played out a table-top disaster exercise to plan a coordinated response to an earthquake hitting the island.

Natural disaster is a possible rather than clear and present danger on Anguilla, unlike gun crime which is on the increase according to the island’s police commissioner, who asked for assistance in training his men.

Step forward Royal Marine and skill-at-arms instructor L/Cpl Joshua Howell-Williams, who spent a day with the island’s constabulary, inspecting their weapons and advising them on the ranges.

It wasn’t the only help the police received from Wave Knight because the radio on their launch was out of action – and, as four volunteers from the ship found, beyond repair.

Being good eggs, they fitted a new one, plus aerial, and tested it with a successful communications check with the tanker.

“Our time in Anguilla has been very rewarding as it has made a big difference to so many people,” said the tanker’s Commanding Officer Capt Nigel Budd RFA.

“I am delighted that my teams were able to use their skills to help improve capabilities on the island over such a wide range of areas.

“I was particularly pleased with the immediate positive impact of the school refurbishment had on the young people’s lives.”

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