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HMS Ocean prepares to take vital aid to Caribbean

12 September 2017
Britain's flagship HMS Ocean has loaded emergency supplies in Gibraltar to provide aid to British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma.

The supplies are part of the longer term assistance package provided by the UK government. During her time alongside in Gibraltar HMS Ocean loaded over 200 pallets of aid which included items such as timber, buckets, bottled water, bedding, clothing as well as food and milk for babies which is in short supply.

She is also delivering pickup trucks to the affected region donated by the Gibraltar government.

The Plymouth-based helicopter carrier is due to sail tonight.

She also embarked seven extra medical staff so her sick bay can provide emergency care if required.

Leading Steward Kevin Slater, who comes from the Caribbean, said he was "really eager" when he learned the Plymouth-based ship would be diverted to the region to assist.

"I'm proud to be going out there to help people out," he said.

"I've heard from friends that it's been devastating - a lot of people are homeless, the infrastructure's gone, there's no water.

"Caribbean people tend to be quite resilient. This isn't the first storm or hurricane... but it is the first one on this level.

"I'm sure people will recover from this, but it is going to take some time."

I'm proud to be going out there to help people out,

Leading Steward Kevin Slater

His Commanding Officer Captain Rob Pedre said Ocean was "ideally suited" to continue the "sterling work" begun by RFA Mounts Bay in Anguilla and the neighbouring British Virgin Isles.

"With 700 personnel, nine helicopters, four landing craft, all-terrain vehicles and significant quantities of humanitarian aid, we're tailor-made for this mission. We can get the aid precisely where it's needed.

"Water, trucks, 200 pallets of aid from DFID, 60 pallets of MOD emergency relief stores have been loaded aboard - everything you need in a crisis such as this. Tents, drinking water, chainsaws - the whole gambit of materials you would need to render support.

"We can also produce 300 tonnes of drinking water and generate enough electricity to supply around 8,000 homes. And we carry specialist engineers, medical experts. We really are ready. We're determined to get out there and do all that we can to help."

The Royal Navy’s flagship was operating in the Mediterranean Sea as Flagship for the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 when Hurricane Irma struck, causing untold damage to Islands in the Caribbean.

HMS Ocean was re-tasked to head out to the area to join the auxiliary ship RFA Mounts Bay which has been in the region helping provide cover throughout the Hurricane season. HMS Ocean will provide humanitarian relief and help the islands affected by carrying out repairs to the infrastructure.

As well as all the stores the ship will be carrying two Chinooks from 18 Squadron RAF Odiham, a Merlin Mk2 helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose, 3 Merlin Mk3 helicopters from 845/846 NAS and 3 battlefield Wildcats from 847 NAS.

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