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Royal Navy team comes to assistance of family in search and rescue mission

Image courtesy of US Coast Guard
22 September 2017
Last night the crew of Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay helped save the lives of three people in a search and rescue operation in the Caribbean, working alongside the US Coast
Guard.

In the early hours of the morning, the Royal Navy vessel launched her Wildcat helicopter to search for a ship reported missing off the south east coast of the island of Vieques.

The team of UK personnel from 815 Naval Air Squadron spotted an upturned hull along with some debris and a life raft in the surf. Three people then clambered up onto the up turned hull and waved for assistance, which was spotted by a US Coastguard C130 aircraft. The Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter was then tasked to rescue the three people.

Commanding Officer of RFA Mounts Bay, Captain Steve Norris, said:

“My ship and crew demonstrated exceptional teamwork today to save these lives, and I am immensely grateful to them all for their efforts in this operation.

It is with regret that we understand that a fourth individual at the scene is missing, presumed dead. Our thoughts go out to their family at this difficult time.”

My ship and crew demonstrated exceptional teamwork today to save these lives, and I am immensely grateful to them all for their efforts in this operation.

Captain Steve Norris

The three survivors were treated for minor injuries in the ship's sick bay. A fourth person, the boat's skipper, last seen in the wheelhouse, is presumed dead - tingeing an otherwise successful search-and-rescue mission with sadness.

The Wildcat - flown by pilot Lieutenant Oliver Bundock and Observer/Flight Commander Lieutenant Amy Gilmore - has been heavily in demand for the past fortnight, flying emergency supplies, water especially, into remote communities in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

Currently engaged in the UK government response to the devastation left behind by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, RFA Mounts Bay continues to deliver emergency relief to affected islands. Pre-positioned in the region, she provided initial assistance to Anguilla to clear the runway and helped fix basic infrastructure and provide shelter to people in the British Virgin Islands.

A specialist FCO team is on the ground to provide assistance to the individuals involved.

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