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Royal Navy ship completes 2022 deployment in the Caribbean

Royal Navy ship completes 2022 deployment in the Caribbean
20 December 2022
There won’t be snow for the crew of Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel HMS Medway as they arrive in Florida in time for Christmas having completed a busy patrol in the Caribbean.

The ship has been deployed to the region as the Royal Navy’s permanent presence. This year, she has delivered aid to island communities hit by the storms in the wake of two hurricanes – Fiona and Ian.

Her recent deployment also saw her seizing £24 million of cocaine in a joint operation conducting counter-narcotic sweeps with the US Coast Guard.

HMS Medway is deployed to the region on a long-term mission, ready to respond at pace should Caribbean communities – including British Overseas Territories – require assistance.

Throughout the core hurricane season which runs from mid-summer to the end of November, the ship carries a dedicated crisis response troop – Royal Engineers of 24 Commando Regiment – and emergency supplies including bottled water, food, generators and tools to effect repairs. The ship supported twice in a matter of days in September in the wake of Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian.

She arrived in the Turks and Caicos Islands just 12 hours after the Hurricane Fiona passed, where her Team helped to repair the perimeter fence around the airport and restore generators at the prison.

HMS Medway then responded to Hurricane Ian after it struck the Cayman Islands, turning up within four hours of the storm, remaining poised to support and offering reassurance that extra help was available if required.

“Although this year’s hurricane season has seen fewer storms than previous years, we have seen some intense periods of tropical cyclone development –the Caribbean experienced the most active November for hurricanes on record,” explained Petty Officer Fred Noakes, Medway’s meteorologist.

“Overall, this has made for a rewarding assignment, made all the better for being able to provide assistance and support.”

Between storms, the ship and her Commandos have worked with island communities’ disaster relief teams to build relationships, and share skills to enable a rapid response in the event of a future emergency.

The commando engineers joined islanders in the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to celebrate independence day for Antigua and Barbuda, taking part in community projects and helping with repairs to a care home. They also trained alongside the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force highlighting basic demolitions techniques: safely completing the journey from classroom theory to practical demonstrations

Capt Sebastian Cooke RE, Crisis Response Troop Commander, said his team had thoroughly enjoyed the rich experience of spending several months at sea – and ashore – with Medway.

“My Troop have enjoyed the opportunity to land ashore and provide support and assistance following Hurricanes Fiona and Ian.

“The versatility and adaptability of the Troop enabled a wide range of support tasks to be completed under tough conditions, helping these islands to quickly recover from storm damage.

“Our time embarked in HMS Medway has been both exciting and rewarding during what has proven to be a busy deployment.”

The ship has clocked up 10,000 miles on her autumn patrol and will now undergo a routine maintenance period in Jacksonville, Florida, where temperatures at this time of year are normally in double figures… but can drop below zero at night.

“This has been a busy but productive deployment, with HMS Medway seeing her most successful September to date, providing two humanitarian aid and disaster relief support packages and interdicting £24m of cocaine while operating under tough conditions with adverse residual weather impacting our operations,” said Commander Chris Hollingworth, the ship’s Commanding Officer.

“These successes demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of my ship’s company and highlight the value we are able to add to the Caribbean region.”

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