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Commandos help rebuild school as Grand Turk relief mission begins in earnest

Op Ruman
18 September 2017
If I had a hammer… A Commando engineer gets stuck in at the E L Simons Primary School on Grand Turk, as British military assistance arrives in force at the Turks and Caicos Islands.

After a week concentrating her efforts around the British Virgin Islands, support ship RFA Mounts Bay has sailed 500 miles to the northwest to help inhabitants of a second British overseas territory hit by Hurricane Irma.

With emergency supplies and building stores stocked up once more, a 45-strong combined team of RFA sailors, Royal Marines of 40 Commando and engineers of 59 Commando, began using the ship's Mexeflote powered raft to begin restoring vital services and structures on Grand Turk.

Diggers, trucks and other heavy plant drove off the raft and on to the beach, with the E L Simons Primary School the first stop.

It lost 40ft sections of roof - and with the roof gone classrooms and teaching materials inside were wrecked.

The school not only provides the children with a good education, it also acts a central point for the community to interact

Lieutenant Steve Dunning RN

Within hours of unloading the vehicles, the Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief troop from RFA Mounts Bay cleared debris and damaged roofing, then began the task of repairing so that youngsters can resume their education as quickly as possible.

"The level of devastation to the school is heart-wrenching," said Lieutenant Steve Dunning RN, in charge of a military camera team sent to record the devastation and reconstruction work.

"The school not only provides the children with a good education, it also acts a central point for the community to interact."

As well as troops getting stuck in on the ground, Mounts Bay's Wildcat helicopter has once again been vital to ferrying fresh water to outlying communities, delivering two tonnes to Grand Turk, plus ration packs to sustain commando engineers toiling on South Caicos.

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